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Civil Ensign (Malta)

Last modified: 2015-05-23 by rob raeside
Keywords: cross: george cross | cross: maltese (white) | maltese cross (white) |
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[Civil Ensign (Malta)] 2:3 image by Željko Heimer
Flag adopted 12th November 1965

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A red flag with a small white border and a large white Maltese cross.
Mark Sensen, 8 November 1995, Jan Zrzavy, 16 January 1998

According to Barraclough and Crampton 1981, p. 129:

A Merchant Ensign was adopted on 12 November 1965, the design of which is based on the flag of the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, i.e. a red field with the Maltese Cross in white in the centre. In this however there is also a white border around all four sides of the flag.

Santiago Dotor, 2 February 2000

The cross on the flag is known by several names, including the Maltese cross, the St John cross and the 8-pointed cross. It has some similarity to 4 arrowheads, in fact this is what it is thought to have originally been when it was the badge of the Republic of Amalfi. When the Order of St John was formed during the Crusades with the support of Amalfi, they also took it as their badge, and since the Order's occupation of Malta, it has also been known as the Maltese Cross.
Jonathan Dixon
, 14 June 2000

From the Maltese Government Official Website:

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 Cross at its centre. (...) Maltese civilian vessels shall fly the Merchant Flag of Malta as their ensign.
See also the flag of the Order of Saint Stephen (mistakenly reported as a Maltese flag in old charts).
Santiago Dotor, 28 November 2000

The Maritime [i.e. civil] ensign is the same flag as that flown by the Knights of the Order of Saint John in Malta up to 1798 —this was a red field, with a white eight pointed Maltese cross in the centre— to which a white border has been added. All Maltese registered vessels fly this flag as an ensign.
Adrian Strickland, 30 November 2000

As far as I am aware, there is no construction sheet issued in vexillological publications, so there is no strict regulation regarding the size of the border and size of the cross. Anyway, Album des Pavillons 2000 shows it with much wider border than Smith 1975 on which is based my image above.

Regarding the construction of the Maltese cross, it is worth nothing that the proper ('regular') Maltese cross might be defined with only one dimension, for example the diameter of the circumscribing circle. The outer eight vertexes form the shape of a regular octagon inscribed in it, and the indentations form the right angles, therefore are gained by inscribing a circle though two neighbouring vertexes, with the center in the middle of the line connecting them.
Željko Heimer
, 31 May 2002

The Maltese Shipping Directorate issued the following Merchant Shipping Directive no. 29 regarding the national colours of Maltese ships, according to this website:

(...) Furthermore, in terms of section 72 of the Act the flag as set out hereunder is declared as the proper national colours for all Maltese ships. The merchant flag of Malta consists of a red field bordered in white, with a Maltese Cross at its centre.

It is important that owners and masters of Malta flag vessels ensure that only the home port Valletta and the national colours shown hereunder are marked and hoisted on Maltese vessels. The Merchant flag is not to be used as a courtesy flag.

Thus, Malta appears to be an exception to the ordinary practice of using the nation's civil ensign as a courtesy flag.
James T. Liston, 8 December 2002

I have the Schedule outlined in Section Two of the "Maltese Ships (National Colours) Act of 11 November 1965 that established it, and a copy of Struzzjonijiet Dwar L-uzu ta'bnadar ("Instructions on the Use of Flags") dated 1992 (previously mentioned by Armand du Payrat). These
two are in reasonable agreement, in so far as they show a flag in 2:3, which has a white border equal to one-tenth the width of the flag, and a Maltese Cross contained within an imaginary circle of three-fifths of that width. In other words, hoist measurements of 1-8-1, length measurements of 1-13-1 and a Cross of 6.
Christopher Southworth, 12 March 2005

The civil ensign of Malta was established by Act No. XLIII "The Maltese Ships (National Colours) Act", which was passed by the Maltese House of Representatives on 1 November 1965 and was effective on 12 November 1965. I have been able to discover
no official statistics, but my own spec sheet is based upon the illustration contained in Section Two (the Schedule) of this Act and upon a further illustration in the official publication Struzzjonijiet Dwar L-uzu ta'bnadar issued in 1992, and a flag created from them is identical to the image shown above based upon that in the Album des Pavillons (2000). These give measurements for the hoist of
1-10-1 and for the length of 1-13-1, with the circle containing the Maltese Cross as 6.
Christopher Southworth, 15 October 2008