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Graham76

Dieppe-Newhaven, Cote d'Albâtre Flag

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Hi, first post here. Been reading this forum on and off for years, starting around the time our beloved Speed Ferries stopped.

Been travelling Newhaven-Dieppe for a long time, originally once a month, and now every two weeks. Nice to have the second boat back on again this year for the summer. So, we were travelling to the UK on the Tuesday 30 May 12:00 service on the Cote d'Albâtre. Now forgive me if I am wrong, but both the Cote d'Albâtre and Seven Sisters are French registered boats, always have been, having the French flag flying at the rear of the upper passenger sun deck.

Coming into Newhaven, I noticed the Cote d'Albâtre was flying the Red Ensign, directly above the Bridge, and it did not have the French flag at the back or anywhere to be seen.

Has the Cote d'Albâtre changed to UK registered, does the Red Ensign mean that it is UK registered. I do not know how flags and registration really work.

We have sailed so many times on these boats, I could not even count how many times, been outside on deck whenever possible, as they are so nice to sit outside on for the crossing. We have never noticed any Red Ensigns, from memory just the normal French flag. Are we mistaken? Do the boats sometimes fly Red Ensigns, and we have just not noticed them?

Thanks,

Graham

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Welcome!

Ships will often fly a 'courtesy flag' as a mark of respect when entering foreign waters/port on the foremast. The Red Ensign is appropriate for this in UK waters.

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Welcome to the forum Graham, and thanks for a very interesting first post!

Just to add a couple of things to what Jim said.  First, you will often find that ensigns (even the home nation flag, although this shouldn't be) are taken down whilst at sea in order to preserve them.  An ensign constantly flapping in relative winds of 20-40 knots is going to get torn apart before too long.  So the chances are, if you are sitting out on deck whilst the ship is at sea, you are unlikely to see the ensign flying.

In the vicinity of port, however, you should see them flying.  And the maritime convention is that the ensign of the country of registry is flown from the stern.  This is usually the largest flag flown.  Courtesy ensigns, representing the flag of the nation being visited, are flown from the starboard spreader on the main mast, but only when the country being visited is not the country of registry of the vessel.  A vessel in home waters does not fly a courtesy ensign.

So.....the Transmanche ships should fly the French Tricolor from the stern when in either port, and a courtesy red ensign from the main mast when in Newhaven.  No courtesy ensign will be flown in Dieppe.  Conversely, the P&O fleet in Dover will fly the red ensign from the stern when in port, and a French courtesy ensign when in Calais.

For completeness, there are also House flags (flag of the company) which are usually flown from the port spreader of the main mast.  BF ships also fly courtesy Normandy, Brittany or Cantabria flags from the bow when in port, depending on which of those is more appropriate for the route on which they are operating.

You generally find that ensigns are lowered not long after leaving port, and raised when about 15-30 minutes out from arrival.

Edited by Gareth

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2 hours ago, Gareth said:

Conversely, the P&O fleet in Dover will fly the red ensign from the stern when in port, and a French courtesy ensign when in Calais.

Actually... and I'm not sure if it's changed... pretty sure they flew the EU flag for a while to save changing the flag ;)

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Well if you were going to suggest a company for demonstrating complete contempt for proper nautical protocols it would be P&O wouldn't it?! ;)

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Hi again,

Thanks for your answers. This all seems completely correct now. We stayed out on deck right into Newhaven until the engines were off, so this why we noticed it. It was a nice day and we were on the main upper vehicle deck (Pont 4), so no need to hurry down (when in Newhaven). The Red Ensign was flying on the starboard side of the mast that was above or just behind the Bridge, as you have correctly reported. Maybe the Tricolor was missing or damaged from the recent normal Bank Holiday weather.

I will take more note of the flags from now on, and see when the Red Ensign is put up, and if the Tricolor is ever taken down. Thanks again for the info.

Graham

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6 hours ago, Gareth said:

Welcome to the forum Graham, and thanks for a very interesting first post!

Just to add a couple of things to what Jim said.  First, you will often find that ensigns (even the home nation flag, although this shouldn't be) are taken down whilst at sea in order to preserve them.  An ensign constantly flapping in relative winds of 20-40 knots is going to get torn apart before too long.  So the chances are, if you are sitting out on deck whilst the ship is at sea, you are unlikely to see the ensign flying.

In the vicinity of port, however, you should see them flying.  And the maritime convention is that the ensign of the country of registry is flown from the stern.  This is usually the largest flag flown.  Courtesy ensigns, representing the flag of the nation being visited, are flown from the starboard spreader on the main mast, but only when the country being visited is not the country of registry of the vessel.  A vessel in home waters does not fly a courtesy ensign.

So.....the Transmanche ships should fly the French Tricolor from the stern when in either port, and a courtesy red ensign from the main mast when in Newhaven.  No courtesy ensign will be flown in Dieppe.  Conversely, the P&O fleet in Dover will fly the red ensign from the stern when in port, and a French courtesy ensign when in Calais.

For completeness, there are also House flags (flag of the company) which are usually flown from the port spreader of the main mast.  BF ships also fly courtesy Normandy, Brittany or Cantabria flags from the bow when in port, depending on which of those is more appropriate for the route on which they are operating.

You generally find that ensigns are lowered not long after leaving port, and raised when about 15-30 minutes out from arrival.

And to confuse things further, I've seen Pont Aven flying the Gwen Ha Du on the Bow when Arriving in Plymouth (and what I'm fairly sure was a Polish flag on the mast of Bretegne in St Malo, perhaps picked up from Gdansk?!).

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Polish flag looks very similar to the H signal flag which indicates pilot on board.  Technically ships in a pilotage zone carrying a captain who holds a PEC are supposed to fly the H flag.  Doesn't always serm to happen but could well have been what you saw on Bretagne.  If it was from the starboard spreader it will have been a Polish courtesy ensign.  If it was flown from the port spreader it was more likely to have been the H signal flag.

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On 01/06/2017 at 22:08, Gareth said:

Polish flag looks very similar to the H signal flag which indicates pilot on board.  Technically ships in a pilotage zone carrying a captain who holds a PEC are supposed to fly the H flag.  Doesn't always serm to happen but could well have been what you saw on Bretagne.  If it was from the starboard spreader it will have been a Polish courtesy ensign.  If it was flown from the port spreader it was more likely to have been the H signal flag.

Gareth

Apprehensive of being flamed here again about flags/etiquette but I do have significant knowledge.

The Pilot Execption flag (i.e  flag is a horizontal white over red) is quite often confused with the national flag of Poland.  Flag Hotel is vertical Red/White and does indeed mean you have a Pilot on board  - or in Royal Naval terms  operating helicopters  - however someone who has better knowledge will no doubt come long and correct me!

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2 hours ago, den herraghty said:

Gareth

Apprehensive of being flamed here again about flags/etiquette but I do have significant knowledge.

The Pilot Execption flag (i.e  flag is a horizontal white over red) is quite often confused with the national flag of Poland.  Flag Hotel is vertical Red/White and does indeed mean you have a Pilot on board  - or in Royal Naval terms  operating helicopters  - however someone who has better knowledge will no doubt come long and correct me!

No, you are quite right (I nearly posted that detail myself but did not want to clutter my post), and it mereky reinforced the point.  The 2 flags are often confused and it may explain what penguin saw Bretagne flying.

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