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Breton Flag on Bretagne


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Returning to England on Sunday, my husband and I noticed that the flagpole on the foredeck of the Bretagne was flying the Breton flag when we set off from St Malo. After we had set off, and were well out of the harbour however, we saw a man come over and remove this flag, which he attached to the railings. We have never noticed this before and wondered why this was and if this happens every trip.

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The flag is removed just after departure and added before arrival, it's simply to protect the flag itself and avoid having to change it every crossing. 

Norman ships fly the normandy flag, whilst others fly the breton Gwen Ha Du, and every Sunday the captain is allowed to fly the flag he wishes (usually of his region). 

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Same with the other flags too.  They’d be flailed to bits in no time if they remained flying at sea.

I’m fairly sure I’ve seen the Catalan flag flying from the bow of one of the Spanish ships before now, but I’m not sure that is common.

The bow flag is entirely discretionary and not flown in response to regulatory requirement.  Same with the BF house flag.  The French tricolore at the stern, and the foreign courtesy ensigns and pilotage exemption flags flown from the main mast are required by international ettiquette.  But all of these are lowered at sea.

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One thing I have noticed over the years is that BF often (but not always) seem to leave the French flag flying at the stern throughout the crossing, whereas other operators such as DFDS seem to take this down once the vessel is firmly at sea. 

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Most Masters on the Bretagne hold a pilotage exemption for both St Malo and Portsmouth. They dont fly the pilot flag whilst leaving St Malo but hoist it aloft on approach to Portsmouth....Old Navy tradition maybe?

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