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Old 10-17-2020, 02:44 PM
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Thumbs up Why The Destroyer USS Paul Hamilton Came Home Flying A Crescent Moon Flag And A Long

Why The Destroyer USS Paul Hamilton Came Home Flying A Crescent Moon Flag And A Long Pennant
By: Joseph Trevithick - The Drive News - 10-17-20

The banners have to do with the history of the ship's namesake and Navy traditions regarding particularly long deployments.

Photo link:

Last month, the U.S. Navy's Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Kidd returned to its homeport flying a huge Jolly Roger pirate flag, something the ship is uniquely authorized to do for reasons you can read about in this subsequent War Zone piece. Earlier this week, another destroyer in this class, the USS Paul Hamilton, finished up its latest deployment flying a large blue flag with a crescent moon with the word "LIBERTY" written inside, as well as a very long pennant with a stars-and-stripes motif, both of which have their own fascinating backstories.

Paul Hamilton, also known by its hull number DDG-60, returned to Naval Base San Diego in California on Oct. 13, 2020. The ship had left its homeport in January and spent some nine months at sea, primarily in the Middle East and Western Pacific, traveling approximately 54,422 nautical miles, in total, according to the Navy.

The ship originally left port as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG), which was tasked with conducting operations in the Western Pacific. The destroyer was detached from that CSG after the crew of the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt became stricken with an outbreak of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, which forced the flattop to head for an extended stay in port in Guam.

2nd photo:
A picture taken from the USS Paul Hamilton of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Pinckney and the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt somewhere in the Pacific Ocean in January 2020.

Paul Hamilton subsequently conducted other operations in the Pacific region, including in the contested South China Sea, before moving on to the Middle East. There it served for a time as the 5th Fleet Ballistic Missile Defense Commander and in the support of the International Maritime Security Construct aimed at deterring Iran.

The Navy says the destroyer spent time attached to four different carrier groups, in total, throughout the course of the deployment to these two regions, but did not identify any beyond the Theodore Roosevelt CSG.

“I could not be more proud of this crew and the great work they did in support of American interests in two strategic regions," Navy Commander Mark Lawrence, the Paul Hamilton’s commanding officer, said in a statement. The crew "adapted to the challenges of operating in a COVID environment and performed brilliantly, demonstrating remarkable self-sufficiency and the will to fight that our nation expects from its Navy."

By the time the ship returned to San Diego, it had spent exactly 270 days, or nine months, away from home, which brings us to the long-flowing pennant that it was flying. Navy ships are authorized to hoist this streamer, known as the "Homeward-Bound Pennant," after spending that amount of time, or more, deployed.

Video link:

3rd photo:
The USS Paul Hamilton arriving in San Diego on Oct. 13 flying the Homeward-Bound Pennant.

The U.S. Navy inherited this tradition from the British Royal Navy. Historically British crews returning from long voyages would fly long streamers to celebrate that they were heading for their "paying off," meaning that were headed home, at which time they would receive their wages.

The practice of flying these pennants continued among American ships unofficially through World War II, after which the Navy formally added it to the service's regulations and defined rules for when and how the streamers could be displayed. An online copy of one Navy manual lays out these stipulations:

"The homeward-bound pennant is flown by ships returning from extended overseas tours. The pennant is authorized for display by a ship that has been on duty outside the limits of the United States continuously for at least 9 months. It is hoisted on getting under way for the United States and may be flown until sunset on the day of arrival in a port of destination. The pennant is similar to the commission pennant, but instead of the usual seven stars, there is one star for the first 9 months of overseas duty and one star for each additional 6 months. Total length of the pennant customarily is 1 foot for each officer and enlisted crew member who served overseas for a period in excess of 9 months. When the number of personnel produces an unwieldy pennant, the length of the pennant is restricted to the length of the ship."

"Upon arrival in a port of the United States, the blue portion containing the stars is presented to the commanding officer. The remainder of the pennant is divided equally among the officers and enlisted crew."

This is actually not the first time Paul Hamilton has flown the Homeward-Bound Pennant. The ship's crew has raised it at least twice before, in 2003 and in 2013, after deployments lasting 10 months and a little over nine months, respectively.


Personal note: I've had some long times at sea during VN. It's not that bad you would be surprised how quickly time goes by when your at sea, I recall many times at night I would lay on the deck and look up at the pitch black sky and stars from horizon to horizon it was awesome and something you never forget.


O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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