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The First Navy Jack
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The First Navy Jack
    As the first ships of the Continental Navy readied in the Delaware River during the fall of 1775, Commodore Esek Hopkins issued a set of fleet signals. His signal for the fleet to engage the enemy provided for the "strip'd Jack and Ensign at their proper places." Thus, the First Navy Jack was a flag consisting of 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes bearing diagonally across them a rattlesnake in a moving position with the motto "Don't Tread On Me."

    In 1980, the Secretary of the Navy directed that the ship in an active status with the longest total period of active service shall display the First Navy Jack until decommissioned or transferred to inactive service, at which time the flag shall be passed to the next ship in line with appropriate honors. The display of this Jack by the oldest ship in the fleet is an appropriate form of recognition and promotes pride of service, enhances morale, and contributes to the tradition of naval service.

    Starting in  June 30, 1995, USS INDEPENDENCE (CV62)  proudly flew the First Navy Jack -- the first aircraft carrier to hold this honor.
    USS Kitty Hawk now holds that honon in Yokosuka Japan.

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