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Royal Yugoslavia (1918-1941): Law on the flags at sea, 1937

Last modified: 2013-07-27 by ivan sache
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Presentation of the law

The 1937 law on the flags at sea, Zakon o zastavama jugoslavenskih brodova, was published as a booklet by the Naval Staff Printing House (Štamparija Kraljevske mornarice). The full text of the law is given below.

The 1937 flag law is apparently not known in the international vexillologic literature. It is presented in detail in the Gazette of the Serbian Heraldic Society by D. Acović, as Zakon o zastavama jugoslavenskih brodova iz 1937., Glasnik SHD, volume V, 8 August 2001. pp. 5-6.
The article by Acović is followed by images of almost all flags from the law, as well as what appears to be the front page of the booklet issued by the Royal [Yugoslav] Navy publishing the law.
Some of the flags defined by the 1937 law are exactly the same as those defined by the 1922 law.

Željko Heimer, 1 August 2004

Text of the law

Law on the Flags of Yugoslav Ships

Article 1.

This Law prescribes: the types, shapes, colours and ratios of those flags hoisted by ships of Yugoslav nationality, according to the special tables (1 though 7) that form an integral part of this law.

Article 2.

The flags [ensigns] which identify the nationality of Yugoslav ships are:

a) Naval Ensign, figure 1, hoisted by units of the Royal Navy;
b) Merchant Ensign, figure 2, hoisted by ships of the merchant marine;
c) Financial Control Units (Customs Service) Ensign, figure 3;
d) Harbour Police Units Ensign, figure 4;
e) Reserve Naval Officer's Ensign, figure 5;
f) Honour Naval Ensign, of the same shape as the naval ensign.
The recipient is permitted to deface it [the Honour Naval ensign] with his coat of arms or his emblem in an unobtrusive place, preferably on the blue field (and) as close to the hoist as possible.

Article 3.

Those flags indicating the presence of the Highest and of High (Ranking) persons on ships are:

A) Standards:

a) HM the King, figure 6;
b) HM the Queen, figure 7;
c) Prince Regent as a Member of the Royal House, figure 8;
d) HRH the Crown Prince, figure 8a;
e) Members of the Royal House, figure 9;

B) Official Flags:

a) Royal Regents, figure 10;
b) Chairman of the Ministry Council, figure 11;
c) Ministers - Members of the Government, figure 12.

Article 4.

Those flags indicating the presence of senior officers of the Army and of the Navy on ships are:

A) Command Flags:

a) Minister of Army and Navy, figure 13;
b) Admiral, figure 14;
c) Vice Admiral, figure 15;
d) Rear Admiral, figure 16;

B) Rank Flags:

a) Marshall, figure 17;
b) Army General, figure 18;
c) Division General, figure 19;
d) Brigade General, figure 20;

C) "Standards" [term used "steg" means same as standard, but this term is already used for royal flags; the term pennant could be used, but this is more appropriate for the next category]:

a) Commodore, figure 21;
b) Squadron Commander, figure 22;
c) Senior Officer Afloat, figure 23;

D) Pennants:

a) Group Commander, figure 24;
b) Ship's Commander, figure 25;
c) Leader, figure 26;

Article 5.

In addition to the flags in article 2, 3 and 4 of this Law, these flags - signals - are also prescribed:

a) Customs Signal, figure 27;
b) Postal Signal, figure 28.

Principal determinations on hoisting (usage) of the prescribed flags

Article 6.

a) The naval Ensign is hoisted only by warships in accordance with the Rules of Engagement at Sea.
b) The Merchant Ensign is hoisted by all merchant and state ships of Yugoslav nationality, except for units of the Financial Control (Customs Service), of the Harbour Police and of those merchant ships that have a right to hoist the Reserve Naval Officer's Ensign.
c) The Financial Control (Customs) Ensign is hoisted by all units of the Financial Control (Customs Service).
d) The Harbour Police Ensign is hoisted only by those units that are in the service of the marine or rivers administration.
e) The Reserve Naval Officer's ensign is hoisted according to special regulations by those merchant ships, whose captains are reserve naval officers and who by decree (have) obtained the right to hoist this flag.
f) The Honour Naval Ensign is hoisted only by those warships that are granted such a flag.
All the flags listed in this article, a) though f), are hoisted at the ship's stern as (the) legal identification of nationality.

Article 7.

a) The hoisting of the [royal] standards on war and merchant ships shall be determined by the Highest prescriptions [i.e. the regulations are at royal discretion].
b) The Official Flags may be hoisted by all Yugoslav ships, war, state and private; but only at the masthead.
c) The Command Flags, Rank Flags, [Naval] Standards and Pennants are hoisted only by warships as determined by the Rules of Engagement at Sea.

Article 8.

a) The Customs Signal is hoisted only by ships in the customs i.e. financial service.
b) The Postal Signal is hoisted only by ships carrying mail.

Final determinations

Article 9.

The Minister of Army and Navy shall prescribe, according to the Rules of Engagement at Sea, the rules for hoisting the flags listed in Article 2 a) though f) as well as from Article 3 and 4 of this Law.
The Minister of Transportation, in agreement with the Ministers of Exterior, Trade and Industry, Post Telephone and Telegraph, Finances and Interior, shall prescribe, with special Regulations, further determinations regarding the hoisting (usage) of the flags on the state, merchant and private ships of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Until the issuing of those Regulations, the Regulations on hoisting (usage) of the flags on the state, merchant and private ships of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Pravilnik o vijanju (isticanju) zastava na državnim, trgovačkim i privatnim brodovima raljevine Jugoslavije, Službene novine, vol. 11 XXVIII, 15 May 1934) shall remain valid, as well as the guidelines for the execution and implementation of those Regulations (Upustva za izvrčenje i primene Pravilnika, Službene novine, vol. 265 LXIX, 16 November 1934) if they are not in conflict with this Law.

Article 10.

The "Regulations on Obtaining a Licence for Hoisting the Reserve Naval Officer Ensign on Merchant Ships on Sea" (Pravilnik o postizavanju dozvole o vijanju zastava za rezervne pomorske oficire na trgovačkim brodovima na moru, Službene novine Kraljevine Srba Hrvata i Slovenaca, vol. 202-LXXIX, 30 August 1929, p. 1495) remain valid.

Article 11.

This Law becomes valid after its publication in the official gazette (Službene novine), and is legally effective 6 (six) months after the publication. At that moment the Law on Flags on War, Merchant and Private Ships of 28 February 1922 (Zakon o zastavama na ratnim, trgovačkim i privatnim brodovima, Službene novine, vol. 80, 25 April 1922) is abrogated.

Translated by Željko Heimer after the original text kindly provided by Dragomir Acović; English text reviewed by Christopher Southworth, 1 August 2004