Original WWII U.S. Navy Submarine 7 Star Commission Pennants for the USS Blackfin, USS Ray & USS Greenling - 3 Items

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Lot of 3 Available. The commission pennant is the normal characteristic emblem of a warship. Also called a commissioning, masthead, long, narrow, or coachwhip pennant, the use of such a mark has long been limited by international custom to public vessels of sovereign states. England restricted its use exclusively to the King's ships in 1674, and today, for most navies, the narrow pennant serves as the chief "distinctive mark" called for in article 8 of the 1958 Convention on the High Seas to distinguish warships from other vessels. In the U.S. Navy, the commission pennant is flown day and night at the loftiest point on the aftermost mast, from the moment the ship is put into commission until the moment it is taken out of commission. The only exception is (a) when it is displaced by the personal flag of an admiral or a senior civilian official, or (b) in the case of hospital ships, which fly the Geneva Convention (Red Cross) flag. The commission pennant is flown in the bow of a boat to denote the presence of a commanding officer. If he dies in command, it is flown at half-mast in his ship as well as in the bow of the boat carrying him ashore. Mounted on a staff and draped in black crepe, the commission pennant follows a ship commanding officer's casket in the funeral procession. Although the commission pennant is not technically a personal pennant of the commanding officer, it is generally used as if it were. For example, a picture of it adorns his official social stationery and he is normally presented with a pennant used by his ship when is relieved from command. The commission pennant that is hauled down at a warship's decommissioning becomes the property of its last commanding officer.

At one time, masthead pennants were extremely long; the 1854 Tables of Allowances issued by the Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repair prescribed pennants measuring up to seven inches by 100 feet for ships of the line and 6.75 inches by 90 feet for frigates. Originally all U.S. masthead pennants had 13 stars, but, since those flown in boats to signify the presence of a commanding officer were too small for all the stars to be distinguished clearly, a seven-star version was adopted only for boats in 1854. With changes in the design of warships, the length of the pennant for shipboard display was gradually reduced until 1933, when the maximum size was set at 2 1/2 inches by 6 feet and the number of stars for all pennants was fixed at seven. The one exception to these specifications is the special case of homeward bound pennants. The term "commission pennant" was officially adopted in lieu of "masthead pennant" in 1922.

The Pennants In This Lot:

- USS Greenling (SS-213): 73” in length.
- USS Blackfin (SS-322): 47 ½” in length.
- USS Ray (SS-271): 49” in length.

The condition of the pennants reflect that of which a pennant was flown for many years while at sea. There is thinning present on the material as well as holes, tearing and staining. The name of the submarines can be found handwritten. Each flag has the standard 7 stars and only the red and white stripes.

- USS Greenling (SS-213), Commander At Time of Decommission: Lt.Cdr. William H. McClaskey: USS Greenling (SS-213), a Gato-class submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the greenling.

USS Greenling (SS-213) was launched by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn., 20 September 1941; sponsored by Mrs. R. S. Holmes; and commissioned at New London, Conn., 21 January 1942, Lt. Comdr. H. C. Bruton in command.

After shakedown training out of New London, USS Greenling (SS-213) departed 7 March 1942 for the Pacific. She arrived at Pearl Harbor 3 April and sailed 20 April for her first war patrol in the Marshalls and Carolines. The submarine departed the Truk area 4 June, the day of Japan's first great naval defeat at the Battle of Midway, and arrived Pearl Harbor 16 June. USS Greenling (SS-213) departed on her second war patrol 10 July 1942. One of the first submarines to operate in the Truk area, she now joined in the undersea blockade of that important base, in an attempt to cut its supply lines to Japan. After damaging ships 26 and 29 July USS Greenling (SS-213) sank transport Brazil Maru off Truk, and just after midnight the same night attacked cargo ship Palau Maru, which she torpedoed and sank.

USS Greenling (SS-213)'s third war patrol took her off the Japanese home islands. Departing Midway 23 September, the submarine sank cargo ship Kinkai Maru 3 October, Setsuyo Maru the next day. After destroying a sampan in the Tokyo-Aleutians shipping lanes 21 October, Greenling returned to Pearl Harbor 1 November. The attrition on Japanese shipping by submarines was already being felt and would be a major factor in her eventual defeat. Steaming into the Solomons-Truk area for her fourth war patrol, USS Greenling (SS-213) departed Pearl Harbor 9 December 1942. Immediately -upon her arrival off Bouganville 21 December she attacked a tanker and two escorts, sinking Patrol Boat 35 before being driven down by depth charge attacks.

Returning to action 5 December at Pearl Harbor, USS Greenling (SS-213) sailed for her eighth war patrol 20 December 1943, in the Caroline Islands. She ended the old year with a late night attack, which sank freighter Shoho Maru, reconnoitered Wake Island, and returned to Midway 28 January 1944. USS Greenling (SS-213)'s last war patrol, her 12th, was carried out in the Nansei Shoto Islands. Departing Pearl Harbor 26 December she found no targets until 24 January 1945, when she intercepted a nine-ship convoy. While making her approach Greenling was attacked by escorts, and after a 4-hour depth charge attack managed to make her escape. The submarine suffered minor damage and steamed to Saipan 27 January 1945 for repairs.

USS Greenling (SS-213) was placed in service for the 1st Naval District in December 1946. Stationed at Portsmouth, N.H., she assisted in the training of reservists there and at Boston. The submarine continued this vital service until 18 March 1960, when she was placed out of service at Boston.

- USS Blackfin (SS-322): USS Blackfin (SS-322), a Balao-class submarine, was a ship of the United States Navy named for the blackfin, a food fish of the Great Lakes.

Blackfin (SS-322) was launched 12 March 1944 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn., sponsored by Mrs. Charles A. Lockwood, wife of Rear Admiral Lockwood; and commissioned 4 July 1944, Lieutenant Commander George Hays Laird, Jr., in command.

Blackfin arrived at Pearl Harbor 11 September 1944. During her war operations (30 September 1944 – 5 September 1945) she completed five war patrols. Her operating areas included the South China and the Yellow Seas. Blackfin sank the Japanese destroyer Shigure, 24 January 1945, in 06°00′N 103°48′E., and a cargo ship for a total of 4325 tons.

The termination of hostilities occurred while Blackfin was on her fifth war patrol. After occupying a lifeguard station and destroying 61 floating mines, she retired to Guam, arriving in Apra Harbor 5 September 1945. After receiving voyage repairs and fuel she proceeded to San Diego where she joined Submarine Squadron 1.

Through July 1948 Blackfin continued on active duty in the Pacific. The majority of her operations were conducted near the Hawaiian and Mariana Islands. In June and July 1946 she participated in "Operation Iceberg" which took her across the Arctic Circle. She reported to Mare Island for inactivation in July 1948 and was placed out of commission in reserve there 19 November 1948.

In November 1950 Blackfin began conversion to a Guppy submarine and was recommissioned 15 May 1951. She operated with Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, based at San Diego until 8 March 1954 and thereafter at Pearl Harbor. During this time she completed two tours in the Far East (December 1951–June 1952 and January–June 1955); conducted local and training operations; and made several simulated war patrols.

During her career, Blackfin was used in two movies: 1963's Move Over, Darling with Doris Day, James Garner, and Polly Bergen, and 1968's Ice Station Zebra with Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, and Patrick McGoohan.

Blackfin was decommissioned and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 15 September 1972. She was used as a target and sunk by torpedo in the "SubSinkEx Project Thurber" project off San Diego, California on 13 May 1973.

Blackfin received three battle stars for her World War II service.

- USS Ray (SS-271): USS Ray (SS/SSR-271), a Gato-class submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the ray, a fish characterized by a flat body, large pectoral fins, and a whiplike tail.

USS Ray made eight war patrols and earned seven Battle Stars, the Navy Unit Citation, and the Philippine Republic Presidential Citation Badge. She sank twelve ships for a total of 49,185 tons. On October 14, 1944 Ray made a quick dive to avoid enemy aircraft and the conning tower flooded because the quartermaster failed to close the upper hatch. The submarine was brought under control before reaching 85 feet, but the flooding caused damage. Ray put into Mios Woendi on October 20 for repairs.

In 1951 Ray was converted to a radar picket submarine (SSR) and operated as a training vessel off the east coast and the Caribbean until stricken from the Naval Register in 1960.

These are absolutely wonderful examples that come more than ready for further research and display!

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