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Rank flags of the portuguese navy

Last modified: 2009-09-12 by antónio martins
Keywords: rank | admiral | vice admiral | rear admiral | subordinate rear admiral | commander-in-chief of the fleet | admiral of the fleet | general director of the navy | cross (green) | cross: christ knights |
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Portuguese rank flags

I’m posting images of the rank flags used by rear admirals and vice admirals of the Portuguese Navy. Doubtless because of the long relationship between Portugal and Britain, these flags are similar to those used by the Royal Navy. The principal point of difference, besides the green color of the cross, is the size and placement of the red disks in the first and third cantons. They are larger than those used in the British flags, and are set nearer to the hoist.

My source is a U.S. Navy poster dating from the 1970s which shows the various flags used by European navies. I thought that the grass-green color for the cross was an odd touch in view of the fact that the green useed for the national flag of Portugal is much darker, but that’s what the chart showed.

The source is twenty years old, so it is possible, I suppose, that these flags are out of date. I don’t really think so, however, since Portuguese flags in general haven’t changed since the early 1900s, when the republic replaced the monarchy.

Tom Gregg, 27 Jan 1997

Some time ago I posted a couple of Portugese Navy rank flags. Since then I’ve gathered additional information in these flags, primarily from old editions of Jane’s Fighting Ships (which used to illustrate naval flags of each nation). This book is not entirely reliable (showing, for example, that the rank emblems in these flags are green, whereas my DoD flag chart shows the vice admiral’s flag with a red ball) but it does show the general designs. All of these flags are based on the same white-field-wwith-green-cross design.

The illustrations I have seen show that the rank emblems are set towards the hoist (and towards the fly for the red ball in the fourth quarter of the "flag officer afloat" flag).

These flags are obviously based on the British system but due to the small size of the Portugese Navy there is no “admiral of the fleet” rank and the only two full admirals are the chief of staff and the fleet commander, who have individual, distinctive flags. The "flag officer inspecting" flag is presumably hoisted when some busybody from the headquarters pays a visit and the "flag officer afloat" flag seems to be used when an admiral is on board ship merely as a passenger.

Some of these flags may now be obsolete and I’d be interested to hear if anyone has updated information.

Tom Gregg, 10 Feb 1997

It seems that the Portugese Navy has changed its rank flags to conform even more closely to the British system, for example, the use of the plain white flag with green cross (which I have already posted as the "flag officer inspecting’s" flag) for full admirals, plus the same flag with the state arms in the first quarter for fleet admirals. I’m presuming from Ivan’s posts that the chief of naval staff’s and flag officer afloat’s flags are now obsolete since he didn’t mention them. I imagine, though, that the navy minister’s flag is still valid (strictly speaking, this is not a naval rank flag anyway).
Tom Gregg, 10 Feb 1997

Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet

Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet
image by Tom Gregg

Generic design with a red cross in the first quarter.
Tom Gregg, 10 Feb 1997

The cross is not plain red. Only the trapezes at the end of the arms of the cross are plain red, the arms are white, fimbriated red.
Ivan Sache, 10 Feb 1997

General Director of the Navy

Generic design with an oblique red anchor in the first quarter, pointing to the fourth quarter.
Ivan Sache, 10 Feb 1997

Ivan, do you happen to know if the anchor in the canton is plain or a foul anchor?
Tom Gregg, 11 Feb 1997

The anchor is plain red, except the "o" (ring) on the top, which is a red circle.
Ivan Sache, 11 Feb 1997

Admiral of the Fleet

Portuguese admiral
image by António Martins

Generic design with the state arms in the first quarter.
Ivan Sache, 10 Feb 1997


image by António Martins

Generic design with no emblems.
Ivan Sache, 10 Feb 1997

Vice admiral

Portuguese vice-admiral
image by Mark Sensen

Generic design with a red ball in the first quarter.
Tom Gregg, 10 Feb 1997

From Barraclough: "The flag [of the Ministery of the Navy], without the Arms but with a red disc in the canton, is the flag of a Vice-Admiral."
Mark Sensen, 5 Jun 1997

Rear admiral

Portuguese rear admiral
image by Mark Sensen

Generic design with red balls in the first and third quarters.
Tom Gregg, 10 Feb 1997

Pedersen gives a flag for the Rear-Admiral: like the flag of the Vice-Admiral, but also a red disk in the lower hoist.
Mark Sensen, 5 Jun 1997

Subordinate rear admiral

The admiral flag includes a red disc in the upper hoist and other red disc in the lower fly.
Jaume Ollé, 28 Jan 1997

Admiral Superintending Naval Dockyards

rank flag of Admiral Superintending Naval Dockyards
image by Tom Gregg, 07 Aug 1998

Recently I came across this — the rank flag of the Admiral Superintending Naval Dockyards: white with green St. George-style cross and a diagonal red anchor in the upper hoist.
Tom Gregg, 07 Aug 1998

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