Ships Flags

On the sea, the position of your flag can mean the difference between life and death. Even pirates prefer to obey the flag etiquette unless they are deliberately attempting to deceive others. Three types of flags are commonly used on the water.


  • Ensign: An ensign is a ship’s domestic flag. For example, an Easterly ship would fly the Easterly flag as its ensign. Even if the ship is privately owned, it would still fly the flag of it’s home country.
  • Courtesy: A courtesy flag is the flag of a foreign nation. An Easterly ship in Oberon waters would fly the Oberonian flag as its courtesy flag.
  • Private Signal: A private signal is the personal flag of a particular ship or captain. This flag is usually the captain’s personal emblem or the emblem of an organization. A privateer must register his/her personal emblem before obtaining letters of marque.


In domestic waters, a ship flies its ensign at the top of the mast. Beneath the ensign appears the ship’s private signal. A private signal flown alone means the ship considers itself unaffiliated with any government-in short, a pirate vessel. Pirate flags are generally flown alone.

In foreign waters, a ship flies the courtesy flag at top mast. Beneath the courtesy flag, ships fly the ensign and then the private signal. Flying an ensign or private signal without a courtesy flag in foreign waters can be seen as a hostile intent and may result in conflict. Flying the ensign or private signal above a courtesy flag is seen as a severe insult.

A flag flown upside down is a signal of distress.

Ships Flags

Skulls & Bones Molay05