It is a custom among merchant ships or any kind of vessel that when entering or leaving a foreign port and during their stay in the port to fly the colours of that country. as a mark of respect. Also, never fly one country’s flag beneath another’s on the same mast. This is a sign of conquest and projects disrespect, ignorance and bad seamanship. Also, do not hoist the courtesy flag upside down. As mentioned, follow the port country’s rules with respect to the courtesy; some countries might have a rule wherein to fly the courtesy only after the Q (quarantine) flag has been secured. The courtesy flag comes second in order of preference after the national ensign.
Unfortunately in Malta at times this is not happening since instead the Merchant Flag of Malta is being hoisted instead.
The Merchant Flag of Malta introduced by the Merchant Shipping Act (Cap.234) consists of a red field bordered in white, with a white Maltese 8 pointed cross in white of which all vessels homeported in Valletta therefore Maltese Flag (MLT) can fly it.
The flag should be flown from the starboard spreader in a position above any other flag. Motor vessels that do not have a dedicated signal halyard should fly the courtesy flag from a prominent position instead (e.g. the VHF aerial). The courtesy flag should be in a good state and of reasonable size as some officials take offense at yachts that fly a torn or tiny flag.
And the only vessels that are permitted to fly the National Flag as their ensign are Maltese Military Vessels –
Of which they also fly the Jack which shall be a square flag, consisting of a George Cross proper fimbriated in red in the centre of a white square within a red square. Each corner of the red square shall contain a white Maltese Cross.
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Published – Monday 29th November, 2021.