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Navy - Award Pennants (U.S.)

Last modified: 2024-03-23 by rick wyatt
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Pennants for unit citations are flown in order of seniority (PUC, NUC, MUC) above any other award flags. Afloat, they are displayed at the fore truck from sunrise to sunset when not under way. Shore commands and shore-based units fly them from the most appropriate hoist determined by the local commander, normally the port yardarm of a mast rigged with a crosstree.

With one exception, only the ships or comparable units involved in the action or service for which the citation was issued may display the pennant for the citation. The exception is that a flagship may fly the pennant(s) awarded to its unit whether it was present or not.

Multiple awards of each type of citation are reflected by the addition of bronze-colored stars to the field of the pennant, up to a maximum of five.

Sources: Secretary of the Navy Instruction 1650.1F; Naval Telecommunications Procedures Publication (NTP) 13A.
Joe McMillan, 17 August 1999

Presidential Unit Citation

[Navy PUC Pennant] image by Joe McMillan, 17 August 1999

Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) - Authorized 1942. Awarded in the name of the President for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy. Pennant is yellow with broad stripes of Old Glory blue and scarlet along the upper and lower edges, 27 units hoist by 57 units fly, 48 units to the fork of the swallowtail; yellow stripe is 13 units wide at the hoist.
Joe McMillan, 17 August 1999

Navy Unit Commendation

[Navy NUC Pennant] image by Joe McMillan, 17 August 1999

Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) - Authorized 1944. Awarded for outstanding heroism in action against the enemy or extremely meritorious service in support of military operations. Pennant is hunter green with bands of royal blue, Spanish yellow, and scarlet along the upper and lower edges (blue at the edge). Dimensions are same as for PUC.
Joe McMillan, 17 August 1999

Meritorious Unit Commendation

[Navy MUC Pennant] image by Joe McMillan, 3 September 1999

Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) - Awarded for valorous or meritorious achievements. Pennant is hunter green with a horizontal central band divided into seven stripes, yellow-ultramarine blue-yellow-scarlet-yellow-ultramarine blue-yellow. (The stripes are not of equal widths--scarlet is the widest, followed by blue, then yellow.) Dimensions are same as for PUC.
Joe McMillan, 17 August 1999

The overall dimensions are 3.78 x 7.98 feet, 1.89 x 3.99 feet, or 1.35 by 2.85 feet. The full construction details are too complicated to explain verbally. There is a diagram in the USN publication NTP-13(B), Flags, Pennants, and Customs, giving the dimensions for all three sizes of this pennant. It can be accessed on line at, and is on page 102 of the PDF document.

I believe the MUC pennant is also carried in the Department of Defense Supply System and can be ordered from Defense Supply Center Philadelphia.
Joe McMillan, 1 October 2003

Battle Efficiency "E"

[Navy Battle image by Joe McMillan, 28 August 1999

The pennant is flown by ships that win the annual battle efficiency competitions, a cycle of inspections and exercises conducted within each type of ship and aircraft squadron. Winning the award allows the ship to fly a red triangular pennant with a black "meatball" at the fore truck when not underway, to paint a large white "E" on the superstructure, and the crew to wear a dark blue ribbon with white and gold edges and a metal "E" attached to it. The pennant and painted "E" are retained until the end of the next competition cycle; the ribbon is worn permanently.
Joe McMillan, 17 August 1999

Special Battle Efficiency

[Navy Special Battle image by Joe McMillan, 28 August 1999

The special battle efficiency pennant awarded to ships for repeated winning of the "E." A ship that is awarded the special BEP also paints a gold "E" in place of the white one. The BEP and special BEP are flown on the same halyard as but below other award pennants and flags.
Joe McMillan, 17 August 1999

Army-Navy Efficiency Pennant

E pennant
image by Miles Li, 4 April 2010
E pennant
image by Miles Li, 4 April 2010

Army-Navy "E" Flag awarded by the U.S. Government to companies for meeting certain wartime production quotas. Individuals earned a similar wreathed "E" with an enamel multi-striped "ribbon" in red, white and blue. My father earned one and he recalls that the program was administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

As I recall a new version of this flag by white with a blue "E" & wreath is still awarded top companies by the Commerce Department.
Jim Ferrigan, 16 April 2003

I think the E stands for "Excellence". It is commonly used on military citations and awards. I say this without seeing the exact wording on the paperwork issued with the award pennant itself. I leave any deep dive into that for our military experts.
Pete Loeser, 22 September 2023

A good description of the award is found on Wikipedia, which has period documents and photos of the pennant as well.
Russ Adams, 23 September 2023

[E Award Pennant] image located by Dave Martucci, 26 September 2023

The addition of stars began at the top fly, then the lower hoist side, etc. Up to six stars could be added.
Dave Martucci, 26 September 2023

In the NAVA NEWS #189 (Jan-Mar 2006) they also mention the "Navy Bureau of Ordnance (U.S.) E Pennant" and other awards, all of them which may be labeled as "WORLD WAR II PRODUCTION AWARD FLAGS" as the article on the News Bulletin is named.
Esteban Rivera, 26 September 2023

Environmental Protection Award

[Navy Environmental Protection Award Pennant] image by Joe McMillan, 11 August 2000

Secretary of the Navy Environmental Award - John Niggley pointed out that this flag was changed in about 1995 and sent me a photograph of the new design, on which the GIF is based. Flown for a one-year period from ships not under way (at the fore truck) and shore stations (at the port yardarm) that win the awards, which are presented for achievements in such areas as environmental quality, environmental cleanup, natural resources conservation, cultural resources management, pollution prevention, and recycling. Authorized by Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5090.5F.
Joe McMillan, 11 August 2000

[Previous Navy Environmental Protection Award Pennant] image by Joe McMillan, 12 September 1999
Previous Version

Energy Conservation Award

[Energy Conservation Award] image by Joe McMillan, 12 September 1999

Energy Conservation Award: White with Spanish yellow sun above royal blue waves, all within a Spanish yellow border. Flown in the same manner as, but below the Presidential, Navy, and Meritorious Unit pennants when not underway, or from the port yardarm by a shore command. Flown for a period of one year or until announcement by the Secretary of the Navy of the following year's awards.
Joe McMillan, 12 September 1999

Energy Security flag

[Navy Energy Security flag] image by Randy Young, 7 April 2016

The Department of the Navy uses a flag for Energy Security, which is a "strategy centered on energy security, energy efficiency and sustainability while remaining the pre-eminent maritime power"
Sources:, and

The flag is a navy blue horizontal flag with the logo ( in the middle, as seen here: (source: Picture caption reads: "Guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton displays the Navy Energy Security flag during the Great Green Fleet ( demonstration portion of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise off Pearl Harbor ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Mayes, Flickr Commons)"
Esteban Rivera, 6 April 2016

Type Commander's Award For Safety Afloat

[Type Commander's Award For Safety Afloat] image by Joe McMillan, 11 August 2000

A green triangular pennant with a white circle and thereon a green cross, awarded to ships that win the annual surface force commanders' competitions for shipboard safety. Flown from a yardarm when not under way. Also known as the Green "S" Pennant because winners also paint a green letter "S" on the bridge. Authority: Commander Naval Surface Force Atlantic/Commander Naval Surface Force Pacific Instruction 3502.2E).
Joe McMillan, 11 August 2000

Golden Anchor Award For Retention

[Retention image by Joe McMillan, 10 September 2001

Each fleet and major command of the U.S. Navy conducts a competition to recognize the ships, aircraft squadrons, shore installations, and so on that do the best job of persuading sailors to reenlist at the end of their terms of service. The awards are given on a yearly basis; the competition cycle coincides with the fiscal year, 1 October-30 September, and awards are generally announced about two-three months later. The competition categories vary somewhat from command to command, but the Pacific Fleet, for example, gives awards to:

  • one aircraft carrier
  • one other large ship
  • three medium-size ships
  • one small ship
  • 2 deployable aircraft squadrons
  • one attack submarine
  • one ballistic missile submarine
  • three shore installations (large, medium, and small)
  • one construction battalion
  • one fleet marine force unit
  • one medical unit
  • two special category units (non-deployable squadrons, surveillance ships, etc.)
The Golden Anchor awards have been given for many years. What is new, as far as I know, is the pennant to symbolize the award. I think it was only adopted within the last year.
Joe McMillan, 10 September 2001

A few weeks ago I sent a GIF and info on a yellow pennant with a blue anchor and chain used by the US Navy to indicate the award of the Golden Anchor retention award. I recently found a copy of the 22 January 2001 Atlantic Fleet message announcing the use of this pennant (CINCLANTFLT 221530Z Jan 01), and it does not confine the use to winners of the Golden Anchor (the top few units); instead it says "...we are introducing a retention excellence pennant that the above listed honor roll winners are authorized to fly until the next quarter's honor roll is announced." The honor roll referred to is a long list of all Atlantic Fleet units who met or exceeded the Navy's "steady state" retention benchmarks, i.e., the number of reenlistments necessary to maintain the Navy at its current strength. This is much broader than the winners of the Golden Anchor. OTOH, there were numerous stories in official Navy press releases characterizing the pennant as signifying a more restrictive honor. It may be that different commands (Pacific Fleet, for example) apply different criteria to present the pennant.

Perhaps I wasn't clear. The Golden Anchor winners would all be on the honor roll, but the honor roll contains many units besides the Golden Anchor winners. One set of announcements specifically said the yellow pennant was for winning the Golden Anchor; the official message authorizing the pennant, at least in the Atlantic Fleet, said it was for all on the honor roll.

Joe McMillan, 2 October 2001