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Peoples Republic of Bulgaria: Naval Flags, 1955

Last modified: 2004-12-29 by rob raeside
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Introduction

Ivanov (1998) explains how near the end of 1954 an official initiative was made to change the naval flags, due their incompatibility with the "modern needs and organization of the Navy, Border Army and DOSO". In the proper channels the flags were adopted by political bodies, and then through the military command line, so that finally an order of the Commander of the Fleet of 18 July 1955 established the date for the first use of these flags on 24 July 1955. Decree #371 of 18 December 1954 issued by the Presidium of the People's Assembly may be considered as the day of adoption.

In Ivanov (1998) are given descriptions of flags from this Decree as well as six pages of reproductions of flag images that appear to be from that Decree. In this presentation I follow the order of the flags from Ivanov (1998).

As I suggested yesterday, the system of flags adopted in Bulgaria in 1954/55 is clearly based on the Soviet model adopted few years before (1950).
Željko Heimer
, 15 September 2001

The new set of flags for the navy was established at the end of 1954 and started to be used in 1955 (therefore I refer to them as 1955 set). The Presidium of the People's Sobranie (Parliament) adopted the flags on 18 December 1954 (Ukaz No. 371). The process ended with the order of the Commander of the Fleet of 18 July 1955 for beginning of the use of these flag starting on 24 July 1955.

The 1955 flag set was amended in 1963 - the changes being mostly a prescription of the flag dimensions for different size of ships, but the main design of the flags was not changed. Some additional amendments were made in 1967, 1971 and 1975. These were superseded by the current set in 1997, though it may have been that after 1990 they have not been in much use, and we have again a grey period regarding the naval ensigns.

The Bulgarian maritime defence forces consisted of three organizations in this period: the Navy (Voennomorski sili), the Border Army (Granichni voiski) and the DOSO (Dobrovolna organizatsiya za s'deistvie na otbranata). The first is within the Ministry of People's Defence (MNO) responsibility, the second is part of the Ministry of Interior (MVR) and the last is an autonomous organization - the name meaning "Voluntary organization for participation in defence" organizing most the youth.Željko Heimer, 18 January 2004


Naval Ensign

[Navy Ensign] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Naval Ensign. Voennomorski flag (k'rmovi flag) na NRB (= Narodna republika B'lgariya)). White flag with green and red stripes along the bottom edge and red five-pointed star in the middle of white field near the hoist. The description on Ivanov (1998) says that the width of the white field is "about 2/3" of hoist, but from the images there it is clearly visible that this was meant to mean approximately "somewhat bigger then 2/3", this being especially noticeable in the flag of the Chairman of the Presidium of the People's Assembly.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Guard Naval Ensign

[Guard Navy Ensign] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Guard Naval Ensign (Gardeiski voennomorski flag). As naval ensign above, but with a golden ribbon set along the lower part of the white field in fly. The footnote in Ivanov (1998) explains that this and two subsequent flags were not manufactured and they were not used. They were modeled on similar Soviet et honour ensigns, but the Bulgarian fleet was never so big and resourceful to make (need) the distinction. So, if I translated it rightly, this three honour ensigns remained a theoretical possibility but never used until 1990's when the whole set was abandoned.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Naval Ensign with Red Banner Order

[Navy Ensign with red banner order] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Naval Ensign with Red Banner Order (Chervenoznamenen voennomorski flag). As naval ensign above where in place of the red star is set the image of the medal of the Order of Red Banner. The medal includes a soldier holding a waving red flag within a foliage wreath with a ribbon bearing the initials in Cyrillic "NRB" (for Narodna republika B'lgariya - People's Republic of Bulgaria). The emblem is topped with a red five-pointed star.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Guard Naval Ensign with Red Banner Order

[Guard Navy Ensign with red banner order] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Guard Naval Ensign with Red Banner Order (Chervenoznamenen gardeiski voennomorski flag). Similar to the naval ensign above with the golden ribbon in fly and with the medal of Order of Red Banner set over the five-pointed star. The text in Ivanov (1998) does not provide any hint (as far as I can understand) as to whether the difference of the position of the red star in the last two flags is of any significance, but in the  accompanying images the distinction is clearly visible. In any case, many details of my representation of the Order of Red Banner are rather "artistic", but as these were never used anyway, there is probably little need for eventual more precise representation.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Jack

[Jack] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Jack (Gyois). Red flag with white outlined red five-pointed star. No lion in it any more.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

1963 Jack

[Jack] 1:2, by Željko Heimer

In 1963 the Commander of the Fleet Order #1396 of 13 July 1963 changed the ratio and sizes of the naval flags. The only important changed introduced, as far as I could judge, is that now the jack was to be in ratio 1:2.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Ensign of Auxilliary Vessels

[Ensign of Auxilliary Vessels] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Ensign of Auxilliary Vessels (K'rmovi flag na spomagatelni korabi). Light blue flag with the naval ensign in canton.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Ensign of Hydrographic and Pilot Service

[Ensign of Hydrographic and Pilot Service] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Ensign of Hydrographic and Pilot Service (K'rmovi flag na korabi s hidrografsko i lotsmansko prednaznachenie). Light blue flag with the naval ensign in canton and with a white disk in the middle of the fly part containing the representation of a lighthouse. Ivanov (1998) notes that this is the exact copy of the Soviet flag for this purpose with the appropriate naval ensign in the canton. If we would like to be nitpicking to the end, I believe that the copy is not quite exact - the artistic representation of the lighthouse was rather different in the Soviet and this Bulgarian ensign.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Ministry of Interior Ensign

[Ministry of Interior Ensign] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Ministry of Interior Ensign (K'rmovi flag na korabite na Ministerstvoto na v'treshnite raboti, MVR). Green flag with the naval ensign in canton. As shall be seen further on, the vessels of the Ministry of Interior included those of the Border Army - to whom the subsequent "green flags" refer. One may assume that, at least in theory, the Ministry could have had other vessels not belonging to the Border Army, that would use this ensign as well, and therefore this is not called "Border Army Ensign", but probably the distinction is rather minor.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Pennant

[Ministry of Interior Ensign]

1:20~ , by Željko Heimer

Ministry of Interior Masthead Pennant (Vimpel na korabite na Ministerstvoto na v'treshnite raboti).
A green triangular swallow-tailed pennant with the naval ensign at the hoist.
Željko Heimer, 20 January 2004

Commander of Naval Force

[Commander of Naval Force] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Commander of Naval Force (the Navy) (Flag na komandvashtiya VMS = Voennomorski sili). Red flag with canton equal to the flag of Minister of Defence (i.e. naval ensign with golden wreath around the star) and with three white five-pointed stars set each in the middle of the remaining red quarters of the flag.
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Senior Flag Officer

[Senior Flag Officer] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Senior Flag Officer (Flag na starshi flagman). Red flag with naval ensign in canton and two white five-pointed star in fly.
This is not the flag denoting "Senior Officer Afloat" as such is presented further on, but the flag of a higher officer of admiral rank (that would include, I guess, Vice-Admirals and full Admirals?)
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Junior Flag Officer

[Junior Flag Officer] 2:3, by Željko Heimer

Junior Flag Officer (Flag na mladshi flagman). As Senior Flag Officer, but with only one star in fly. This flag would be used, I guess by Rear-Admirals (and Commodores?)
Željko Heimer, 15 September 2001

Naval Masthead Pennant

[Naval Masthead Pennant]

1:20~, by Željko Heimer

Naval Masthead Pennant.  (Vimpel na voen korab (kosica). A red triangular swallow-tailed pennant with the naval ensign at the hoist.
Željko Heimer, 20 January 2004

Naval Division Commander Pennant

[Naval Division Commander Pennant]2:7, by Željko Heimer

Naval Division Commander Pennant.  (Breid-vimpel na komandir na divizion voenni korabi). Basically the flag is the same as the masthead pennant, but in different proportions, i.e. it is a pennant consisting of the naval ensign at the hoist to which is attached a swallow-tailed red triangular pennant.
Željko Heimer, 20 January 2004

Auxiliary Vessels Division Commander Pennant

[Auxiliary Vessels Division Commander Pennant]2:7, by Željko Heimer

Auxiliary Vessels Division Commander Pennant.  (Breid-vimpel na komandira na divizion spomagatelni korabi). A pennant consisting of the naval ensign at hoist to which is attached a swallow-tailed light blue triangular pennant.
Željko Heimer, 20 January 2004

Naval Group Commander Pennant

[Naval Group Commander Pennant]2:7, by Željko Heimer

Naval Group Commander Pennant.  (Breid-vimpel na komandira na otryad voenni korabi). A pennant consisting of the naval ensign at hoist to which is attached
a red triangular pennant.
Željko Heimer, 20 January 2004

Auxiliary Vessels Group Commander Pennant

[Auxiliary Vessels Group Commander Pennant]2:7, by Željko Heimer

Auxiliary Vessels Group Commander Pennant  (Breid-vimpel na komandir na otryad spomagatelni korabi). A pennant consisting of the naval ensign at hoist to which is attached a light blue triangular pennant.
Željko Heimer, 22 January 2004

Hydrographic Vessels Group Commander Pennant

[Hydrographic Vessels Group Commander Pennant]2:7, by Željko Heimer

Hydrographic Vessels Group Commander Pennant  (Breid-vimpel na komandir na otryad hidrografski korabi). A pennant consisting of the naval ensign at hoist to which is attached a light blue triangular pennant with rounded fly with a white disk containing a black lighthouse.
Željko Heimer, 22 January 2004

Senior Officer Afloat Pennant

[Senior Officer Afloat Pennant]2:7, by Željko Heimer

Senior Officer Afloat (Breid vimpel na starshi morski nachalnik na reida). A pennant consisting of the naval ensign at hoist to which is attached a swallow-tailed white triangular pennant with a light blue anchor in the middle.
Željko Heimer, 22 January 2004

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