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Indian Ensigns

Last modified: 2014-04-19 by ian macdonald
Keywords: india | ensign | air force | roundel | sword | anchor | civil ensign | war ensign | government ensign |
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In the first few years, the Indian navy flew the national flag at the jack staff and the standard Royal Navy white ensign at the ensign staff.

On 26 January 1950, India promulgated its constitution and became a republic. The national flag continued unchanged, but the Indian navy instituted a new jack with the national flag replacing the Union Jack in the white ensign at the ensign staff. Similarly, the Indian Air Force and Indian Army instituted new flags (and other insignia) with the constitution and break with the UK.
Željko Heimer


Naval ensign

[Naval Ensign of India] 2:3 by Željko Heimer

[Naval Ensign of India] 1:2 by Željko Heimer

White ensign with red cross and the national flag in canton. I guess that 1:2 is probably older, British influenced, ratio, while 2:3 is newer one conforming with all other Indian flags. I assume that the width of the cross is quite typical for British white ensigns, 1/8 of the hoist.
Željko Heimer, 6 November 2001


Civil ensign

[Merchant Ensign of India] 2:3 by Željko Heimer

Merchant ensign of India: red with national flag in canton, ratio 2:3 (from Album des Pavillons, 2000).
Željko Heimer, 7 November 2001

The Indian red ensign (civil ensign), for civilian ships registered in India and/or owned by Indians by virtue of the Indian Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, and navy regulations cited below.
James T. Liston, 22 March 2014


State ensign / Indian Fleet Auxiliaries

[Blue Ensign of India] 2:3 by Željko Heimer

The state or government ensign of India is a blue ensign with the Indian national flag in canton and yellow anchor horizontally in the fly half, ratio 2:3 (from Album des Pavillons, 2000).
Željko Heimer, 7 November 2001

This flag was removed from the Album in 2002 by Change 2.
David Prothero, 6 March 2007

This flag is used by Indian Fleet Auxiliaries and Vessels other than ships of war - the Indian Blue Ensign (Defaced). Vessels other than ships of War employed in Naval service by the Government whether belonging to or under charter to Government shall wear the Blue Ensign defaced by an anchor in horizontal position. The Anchor emblem shall be in yellow colour and be displayed in the centre of the fly. The dimension of the emblem shall not exceed that of a circle whose diameter is 13/30th of the width of the flag.

Vessels owned by Organisations under the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Government of India, are allowed to wear the Indian Blue Ensign defaced by Badges of Office.
James T. Liston, 22 March 2014


Naval Reserve

[Blue Ensign of India] 2:3 by Željko Heimer

In the 1971 edition of Flags of the World, Captain E.M. Barraclough wrote that the Indian Blue Ensign without a yellow anchor in the fly was the Naval Reserve Ensign, used by auxiliary ships and merchant ships whose captain is a Navy Reserve Officer.
David Prothero, 5 March 2007

The Indian blue ensign (undefaced), for merchantmen commanded by naval officer, etc.
James T. Liston, 22 March 2014


Masthead Pennant

[Masthead Pennant of India] by Željko Heimer

White triangular pennant, ratio ca. 1:20~, at hoist design similar to the rank flag of a full Admiral - red cross with blue Chakra in the middle, here in ratio about 1:2.
Željko Heimer, 8 November 2001


Organizations under the Ministry of Transport and Communications

Vessels owned by Organizations under the Ministry of Transport and Communications, (except the Light House Department and Port Administration) shall wear the Indian Blue Ensign defaced by an Ashoka Chakra superimposed over the shanks of the anchor in a vertical position. The defacing shall be done in a light golden colour.
James T. Liston, 22 March 2014


Light House Department

Vessels owned by the Light House Department shall wear the Indian Blue Ensign defaced by a Light House in a vertical position with two white light beams emanating horizontally from the beacon. The defacing shall be done in a light golden colour.
James T. Liston, 22 March 2014


General Government Ensign

If a department or local Government has no distinctive badge, the Government of India crest, namely, 3 Asoka Lions, may be inserted in the flag.
James T. Liston, 22 March 2014


Indian Ensign Regulations

 73. Public Offices.

(1) Ships and vessels (including boats and launches using inland waterways) employed in the service of any public office in India wear a blue ensign, and a smaller blue ensign as a jack, but in the centre of the fly of such ensign and jack shall be inserted the badge of the office to which they belong. If a department or local Government has no distinctive badge, the Government of India crest, namely, 3 Asoka Lions, may be inserted in the flag.

(2) Ships and vessels employed in the service of the Indian Air Force shall wear the Indian Air Force ensign in place of the blue ensign described above.

74. Merchant Ships to wear Red Ensign.

Except as provided in Regulations 75 to 77, all ships registered in India and all vessels which are not registered in any British possession but are owned exclusively by persons domiciled in India or by bodies corporate established in India, shall wear the Red Ensign consisting of a red flag with a width one-half of its length and the National Flag of India superimposed in the top quarter next to the staff, that being the proper National Colours.

75. Merchant Ships allowed to wear the Indian Blue Ensign.

(1) Indian Merchant ships may wear the Indian Blue Ensign plain and un-defaced, consisting of a Royal Blue Flag, the width being one half of the length and the National Flag of India superimposed in the top quarter next to the Staff, provided the following conditions are fulfilled:

(a) The officer commanding the ship must be an officer on the retired or emergency list of the Indian Navy or an officer of the Indian Naval Reserve.

(b) The crew must include (in addition to the Commanding Officer) officers of the Indian Naval to the number specified from time to time by the Chief of the Naval Staff, but officers on the retired or emergency list of the Indian Navy may be included in the number specified

(c) Before hoisting the Blue Ensign, the officer commanding the ship must be provided with a warrant issued by the Chief of the Naval Staff.

(d) The fact that the Commanding Officer holds a warrant authorizing him to hoist the Blue ensign must be noted on the ship's articles of agreement.

(2) Commanding Officers failing to fulfil the conditions mentioned in sub-regulation (1) unless such failure is due to death or other circumstances over which they have no control, shall not be entitled to wear the Blue Ensign.

(3) Indian merchant ships in receipt of Government subvention may be allowed to wear the Blue Ensign under a warrant issued by the Chief of the Naval Staff with any badge that may be prescribed in the Warrant.

(4) In order to ascertain that the conditions mentioned in sub-regulation (1) are strictly carried out, the Captain of one of Indian Naval Ships meeting a ship wearing the blue ensign may send on board an officer not below the rank of Lieutenant at any convenient opportunity. This restriction as to the rank of the boarding officer shall not limit or otherwise affect the authority or the duties of Naval officers under the Merchant Shipping Act 1958 or in time of war.

(5) Applications for permission to wear the blue ensign on board Indian merchant ships in receipt of Government subvention, should be made direct to the Chief of the Naval Staff by the owners and for the other Indian Merchant ships, applications should be made through the Director General of Shipping, Bombay.

76. Indian Fleet Auxiliaries and Vessels other than ships of war, on naval service allowed to wear the Indian Blue Ensign (Defaced).

(1) Vessels other than ships of War employed in Naval service by the Government whether belonging to or under charter to Government shall wear the Blue Ensign defaced by an anchor in horizontal position. The Anchor emblem shall be in yellow colour and be displayed in the centre of the fly. The dimension of the emblem shall not exceed that of a circle whose diameter is 13/30th of the width of the flag.

(2) The fly shall be half of the flag farthest away from the mast.

77. Vessels owned by Organisations under the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Government of India, allowed to wear the Indian Blue Ensign defaced by Badges of Office.

(1) Vessels owned by organizations under the Ministry of Transport and Communications, except the Light House Department and Port Administration shall wear the Indian Blue Ensign defaced by an Ashoka Chakra superimposed over the shanks of the anchor in a vertical position. The defacing shall be done in a light golden colour.

(2) Vessels owned by the Light House Department of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, shall wear the Indian Blue Ensign defaced by a Light House in a vertical position with two white light beams emanating horizontally from the beacon. The defacing shall be done in a light golden colour.

(3) Badges of office referred to in sub-regulations (1) and (2) shall be displayed in the centre of Fly, the dimensions of the badge not exceeding that of a circle whose diameter is 13/30th of the width of the flag.

Explanation. - The Fly shall be half of the flag farthest away from the mast.

James T. Liston, 22 March 2014


Unidentified Ensign

[Unidentified ensign from India]

Here is a scan of a table flag I picked up at a flag manufacturer in New Delhi, India, early last year. The shopkeeper, unfortunately, had no idea what it was. Given its general configuration -- white field, Indian national flag as the canton, gold anchor in the fly -- it seems quite reasonable to assume it is some sort of post-independence maritime ensign/flag from India: but, precisely, what kind of Indian maritime flag? There lies the rub. A friend has suggested Calcutta or Cochin Port Authority, (because of the "C" superimposed on the anchor); or perhaps a Yacht Club of some sort, (maybe at Calcutta?) I find neither answer to be very convincing, however. If you can identify this flag, please write us.
Glen Robert-Grant Hodgins, 15 December 1998

I'm guessing that this flag is the flag of the Indian Coast Guard.
Rishi Vyas, 8 July 2001