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Hamburg Pilot Flag (Germany)

Hamburg Harbour Pilots (Brotherhood of Elbe-Pilots / Lotsenbrüderschaft Elbe)

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: hamburg | elbe-pilots | admiralty flag | pennant | flueger | castle | anchor |
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[Hamburg pilot flag] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Oct 2011 See also:


Pilots on river Elbe are known since the 13th century. The job then had been down by local fishermen. The first document about pilots is known from 1575. The first paid pilot in service of Hamburg existed in 1610. Since 1623 the Admiralty Board was in charge of pilotage on river Elbe.
Elbe Pilots today are organized in a brotherhood, an successive amalgamation of nine independent pilot associations around. The legal form of the brotherhood is a KdóR (=Kórperschaft des óffentlichen Rechts), enjoying some tax privileges.
For further information click: elbepilots homepage. The full history is available in German only. Another summary can be found at: here
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Oct 2011


Harbour pilot vessels are labeled with an inscription "PILOT" clearly visible. They have a white funnel with black over red ring at the top and the image of the Admiralty Flag in the white part. The fly the Admiralty Flag, however represented by a plate, at the prow, the national flag on the stern and a special white - red vertical bicolour at the top on starboard. If there is no flag on stern, the national flag is hoisted at the top on port. The bicolour is also hoisted on piloted ships on port of the flagpole, if a pilot is on board.
Source: I spotted those flags on a vessel on 7 Oct 2011 at Hamburg-Finkenwerder pilotage base.
According to WIKIPEDIA the city of Hamburg, as state, is in charge of the harbour pilots (it's the same with Bremen in the port of Bremerhaven). According to source currently there are about 60 harbour pilots in Hamburg and some 30 in Bremerhaven.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Oct 2011

Besides the harbour pilots, there are also existing sea pilots having seven districts. Those are: Elbe (seat: Hamburg-Teufelsbrück), Kiel Canal 1 (seat. Brunsbüttel), Kiel Canal 2 (seat: Kiel), Weser 1 (seat: Bremen), Weser 2/Jade (seat: Brmerhaven), Ems (seat: Emden) and Wismar/Rostock/Stralsund (seat: Rostock-Warnemünde), all in all about 710 pilots. The republic is in charge of sea pilots. Their vessels and buildings fly the well-known German pilot flag, a white bordered merchant ensign, which is not obsolete (I spotted it several times in Teufelsbrück).
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Oct 2011

Historical Pilot Pennant reported 1855

[Pilot Flüger 1837 (Hamburg,Germany)] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 24 Oct 2009

Pilot pennant - model 1837.
The pennant (Flüger), is shaped like a trapezium. The white castle with blue tower windows, a partially open white portcullis flanked by two red spyholes and masoned at the bottom with black anchor is shifted to the hoist.
Source:Gaedechens 1855, p.42ff
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 13 Sep 2012

Historical Pilot Pennant reported 1897

[Pilot Flüger 1897 (Hamburg,Germany)] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 24 Oct 2009 The ratio was unknown. The image shows a Flüger reported 1897. For further information about Flüger see here. The Flüger was red with the image of Admiralty flag, the castle being masoned black, shifted to the hoist. The flag was only used by pilot vessels being on duty in their base.
Source:Ströhl 1899; opp.p.86, chart XXII, fig.XXII
iKlaus-Michael Schneider, 24 Oct 2009

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