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Merchant and Marine Flag of Maine (U.S.)

Last modified: 2013-10-19 by rick wyatt
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[Maine Merchant and Marine Flag] image by Jorge Candieas, 21 June 2007

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Description of the flag

Maine is one of only two U.S. states that has an official "merchant and marine" flag (Massachusetts being the other). On March 16, 1939 a design by Marshall S. Campbell of Waterville was adopted by the 89th Legislature with the following language:

"The flag to be known as the merchant and marine flag of the state shall be of white, at the top of which in blue letters shall be the motto 'Dirigo'; beneath the motto shall be the representation of a pine tree in green color, the trunk of which shall be entwined with the representation of an anchor in blue color; beneath the tree and anchor shall be the name 'Maine' in blue color."
This bill was presented by Senator Lewis of Lincoln County and came through the Commerce Committee. The first flag of this design was presented by Governor Lewis O. Barrows to the Schooner Yacht "Dirigo II" upon her launching at East Boothbay in April of 1939. The schooner was built for Chas. Van Sicklen of Northport, Michigan, whose great uncle was one of the owners of the Sewall fleet of steel sailing ships, the first of which was the "Dirigo" launched at E. Boothbay in 1904. By coincidence, Mrs. Sicklen's father was a chief mate of the first "Dirigo," which was torpedoed off the Irish coast during World War I.

On 24 June 1939, a wire photo (from the Boston Bureau of the International News Photos) was released entitled "Commander MacMillan Sails for the Arctic." The caption reads, "Boothbay Harbor, Maine -- Commander Donald B. MacMillan, and his crew of college boys sail for the Arctic to study glaciers and icebergs. This is MacMillan's 18th Arctic expedition on his 'Schooner Bowdoin.' Governor Lewis O. Barrows, of Maine, presents the new State of Maine Marine Flag to Commander MacMillan. This is the first picture of the flag published out of state. Photo shows, left to right, Miriam MacMillan, Governor Barrows and Commander MacMillan."

In 1986, while preparing for "OpSail," the tall ships parade in New York City in honor of the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, the "Schooner Bowdoin," now owned by the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, contacted me regarding the proper colors for them to fly in New York. I told them of the Maine Merchant and Marine Flag and one of them said they thought there was a flag of that design in the "Bowdoin's" flag locker. Sure enough, it was the flag presented to Commander MacMillan in 1939 by the Governor! It is now hanging in the office of the President of the Maine Maritime Academy.

The Marine Flag is seldom seen, however, and, even in official capacity (for example, on the "State of Maine," the Maine Maritime Academy training ship at Castine or on the state-run ferries to Islesboro, North Haven and Vinalhaven), the the common blue flag with the non-official State Arms is used in place of the correct flag.

Dave Martucci, 7 September 1996