Why Sailors Want to Fly the (Red) Flag for Scotland; FLYING THE FLAG: James Ross Wants Recognition for the Scottish Red Ensign

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), November 25, 2007 | Go to article overview

Why Sailors Want to Fly the (Red) Flag for Scotland; FLYING THE FLAG: James Ross Wants Recognition for the Scottish Red Ensign


Byline: Kurt Bayer

SCOTS seafarers are campaigning to have an ancient naval flag officiallyrecognised after being warned they could face prosecution for flying theSaltire.

Hundreds of fishing boat and pleasure craft skippers are flouting shipping lawsby flying the white-on-blue cross, which can be confused with a key maritimesignal.

Now they have been warned they could be fined up to [pounds sterling]50,000 or jailed.

It has led to calls for the return of the Scottish Red Ensign, the flag of theScots merchant navy and the Royal Scots Navy until the Union in 1707.

Seafarers north of the Border are already warming to the design, which featuresa Saltire in the top left-hand corner instead of the Union Flag of the BritishRed Ensign, and flag-makers report rising sales.

Yesterday, Scots sailor George Thomson called for the ensign to be recognisedonce more so that Scots-based vessels can declare their origin while preventingconfusion on the seas.

Mr Thomson, who now lives in Northumberland, said: I can understand theScottish sailors wish for their own identity, particularly with independencebeing hotly debated.

But it would be better to create an official flag for Scottish boats ratherthan have anarchy in Scottish waters.

The Scottish Red Ensign was consigned to history following the Act of Unionscreation of a single Royal Navy flying the British Red Ensign.

In recent years, patriotic sailors and pleasure boat enthusiasts north of theBorder have opted to fly the Saltire from their masts and bowsprits.

But the white diagonal cross on a blue background is also the internationalmaritime signal for M, which means my vessel is stopped and making no waythrough the water. …

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