Jack of the United States
|Jack flown by U.S. naval vessels|
|Name||The First Navy Jack|
|Adopted||September 11, 2002|
|Design||13 horizontal stripes of alternating red and white, charged with a rattlesnake and inscribed on the lowest white stripe: "DONT TREAD ON ME" [sic].|
|Jack flown by other U.S. federal and civilian vessels|
|Adopted||July 4, 1960|
|Design||50 white stars on a blue field in 9 rows, alternating between 6 and 5 stars, was used as the U.S. Navy Jack prior to September 11, 2002.|
The jack of the United States of America is a maritime flag representing United States nationality flown on the jackstaff in the bow of American vessels. The U.S. Navy is a prime user of jacks, but they are also used by ships of the Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other governmental entities. "The jack is flown on the bow (front) of a ship and the ensign is flown on the stern (rear) of a ship when anchored or moored. Once under way, the ensign is flown from the main mast."
The primary jack design until September 11, 2002 was the blue canton with stars (the "union") from the U.S. national ensign. Since September 2002, the U.S. Navy has made use of the so-called First Navy Jack. However, the standard U.S. jack (i.e., 50 white stars on a blue field) continues to be used as the jack by vessels of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Military Sealift Command, and NOAA, to name but a few federal agencies. The standard 50-star jack continues to be used by U.S. civilian ships and by U.S. yachts as well. The blue, starred jack is referred to as the Union Jack, not to be confused with the British Union Jack of the same name. Like the ensign, the number of stars on the jack has increased with each state admitted into the union. Rules for flying the jack are similar to the national ensign, except that the jack is only worn at the bow when the ship is anchored, made fast or alongside.
Since September 11, 2002, the U.S. Navy has instead flown the First Navy Jack, a flag bearing 13 red and white stripes, a rattlesnake and the motto "DONT TREAD ON ME" [sic], coming from the first jacks supposedly used by the U.S. Navy during the Revolutionary War. It is flown from the jackstaff from 08:00 to sunset while U.S. Navy ships are moored or at anchor. It is required to be the same size as the union of the ensign being flown from the stern of the ship. It is also flown from the yardarm during a general court-martial or court of inquiry. During times when the ensign is at half mast, the jack is also at half mast. The jack is hoisted smartly and lowered ceremoniously in the same manner as the ensign, however the jack is not dipped when the ensign is dipped.
Some exceptions to the use of the Union Jack have occurred in the case of the U.S. Navy, the most prominent being the use of the First Navy Jack by the U.S. Navy in honor of the country's Bicentennial and subsequently. On June 3, 1999, the Secretary of the Navy authorized the flying of the Submarine Centennial Jack aboard U.S. Navy submarines and sub tenders during the year 2000.
Historical progression of designs 
|Stars||Design||Dates in general use||Notes|
|January 8, 1776–June 14, 1777||There is little evidence this jack had the rattlesnake or motto as traditionally depicted (see First Navy Jack).|
|13||June 14, 1777–May 1, 1795||Examples of many layouts of the 13 star pattern exist. See US Flag for details.|
|15||May 1, 1795–July 3, 1818||Quasi War, War of 1812|
|20||July 4, 1818–July 3, 1819|
|21||July 4, 1819–July 3, 1820|
|23||July 4, 1820–July 3, 1822|
|24||July 4, 1822–July 3, 1836|
|25||July 4, 1836–July 3, 1837|
|26||July 4, 1837–July 3, 1845|
|27||July 4, 1845–July 3, 1846|
|28||July 4, 1846–July 3, 1847|
|29||July 4, 1847–July 3, 1848|
|30||July 4, 1848–July 3, 1851|
|31||July 4, 1851–July 3, 1858|
|32||July 4, 1858–July 3, 1859|
|33||July 4, 1859–July 3, 1861||Civil War|
|34||July 4, 1861–July 3, 1863|
|35||July 4, 1863–July 3, 1865|
|36||July 4, 1865–July 3, 1867|
|37||July 4, 1867–July 3, 1877|
|38||July 4, 1877–July 3, 1890|
|43||July 4, 1890–July 3, 1891|
|44||July 4, 1891–July 3, 1896|
|45||July 4, 1896–July 3, 1908||Sinking of the USS Maine
Great White Fleet
|46||July 4, 1908–July 3, 1912|
|48||July 4, 1912–July 3, 1959||World War I and World War II|
|49||July 4, 1959–July 3, 1960|
|50||July 4, 1960—October 12, 1975|
|January 1, 1977—Sept 11, 2002||From 1980, the oldest active ship in the U.S. Navy, the USS Constitution, flies the First Navy Jack instead|
|Sept 11, 2002 —||MSC and non-Navy vessels|
|0||October 13, 1975—December 31, 1976||United States Navy bicentennial and United States Bicentennial|
|August 18, 1980—||The active commissioned ship having the longest total period as active displays the rattlesnake jack in place of the union jack until decommissioned or transferred to inactive status, where upon the next such ship inherits the honor. Currently USS Enterprise (CVN-65).|
|Sept 11, 2002—||War on Terrorism
U.S. Navy vessels only; Military Sealift Command (MSC) and non-U.S. Navy American vessels continue to fly the Union Jack
See First Navy Jack for explanation
See also 
- United States Naval Jack
- United States Navy Rate training manual. Signalman 1 & C.
- United States Navy. Basic Military Requirements (BMR) Revised Edition
- "The U.S. Navy's First Jack". Retrieved 2006-10-01.
- Undersea Warfare Summer 2000 Vol. 2, No. 4. The fact that the U.S. Navy has, at times, elected to substitute other flags for the Union Jack has not affected its use as a jack by the Coast Guard, NOAA, other agencies and civilians. Downlink.
- Change ordered 2002-05-31, executed on date shown.