This month we are spotlighting the USS Stewart’s Commissioning Pennant. This pennant would have been given to the crew, and flown on the mast during her commissioning, until her decommissioning.
There is oral tradition associated with the commissioning pennant that begins with a 17th-century Anglo-Dutch naval war (1652-54). The Dutch admiral attached a broom to his mast head to communicate his intention to sweep the English fleet from the sea. The English admiral raised a coachwhip to the top of his mast to communicate that he intended to whip the Dutch fleet. The English won, and whipped the Dutch fleet, and therefore the tradition of a whip-like pennant began. Each Navy that participates in the tradition has its own commissioning pennant design. In the US, there are four different designs: one for the US Navy, one for the US Coast Guard, and two for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).