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Civil Ensign (Singapore)

Singapore Merchant Marine Ensign

Last modified: 2016-06-29 by ian macdonald
Keywords: singapore | stars: 5 (white) | crescent: points to top (white) | circle (white) | law |
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[Civil Ensign (Singapore)] 1:2 image by Željko Heimer, 16 January 2003

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The Singapore civil ensign is red with a white crescent and five stars in a white circle, crescent pointing up. Ratio 1:2. Source: Barraclough and Crampton 1981.
Željko Heimer
, 5 July 1996

I measured the actual civil ensign of Singapore that I own and it comes to 86cm by 144cm which makes it 3:5.
Tom Koh
, 17 January 2000

Oil tanker "Faith IV" of Singapore was stranded this week near Dunkerque. Looking at a photo of her on my newspaper, I have noticed that she did not fly the civil ensign which I expected (image above), but the national flag.
Armand du Payrat
, 13 February 2001

Most South East Asian Commonwealth countries do not emphasise the use of civil ensigns on ships and boats. You will notice that the national flag is used interchangeably with the civil ensign in most cases (at least as far as Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei is concerned). This might probably be due to the fact that the union jack is also used as an ensign and the tradition or more probably general ignorance stems from there.
Robert Kee
, 14 February 2001

In 1997, when we visited Singapore on our boat, the general, but not unanimous, usage was the civil ensign both on Singapore flag vessels and on visiting vessels as a courtesy flag.
James L. Woodward
, 26 March 2001

From my observations as a Singaporean, the civil ensign is mainly used by privately owned boats, at the rear.
Herman Felani M.Y.
, 24 August 2001

Especially important in the circular dated 20/7/99 are paragraph 2, the official ratio is 1:2, and paragraph 3, stating that the proper flag to be hoisted is the Ensign and not the National Flag. Under the Merchant Shipping Act (Chap 179), masters/owners are liable to a fine for violating this rule.
Herman Felani M.Y.
, 14 June 2002

Flag Legislation

From the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore website:

NO. 13 OF 1999

Date: 20/7/99

Applicable to: This circular should be brought to the attention of owners, masters and officers of Singapore registered vessels.

  1. This circular calls attention to Section 36 and 37 of the Merchant Shipping Act (Chap 179) which requires masters of Singapore ships to hoist proper national colours on entering or leaving any port.
  2. Owners and Masters are reminded that the proper national colours for a Singapore registered vessel is a red ensign charged with a circle enclosing a crescent surmounted by five stars in a circle, all in white. The ratio of the width to the length of the ensign is one to two. The colours, crescent and the stars are from the Singapore flag.
  3. The detailed dimension [image here] and stipulated colour [image here] of the flag is as attached. Owners and Masters are also reminded that the Singapore national flag does not substituted the Red Ensign.
  4. Any further queries to this subject and circular could be directed to Ms Sim Wei Ling at 3756227.

Dov Gutterman, 24 February 2002

Construction Sheet

[Civil Ensign (Singapore) construction sheet] 1:2 image by Željko Heimer, 16 January 2003

The construction sheet has the measures expressed in inches and their counterparts in cm. The latter are, I guess, calculations and since the numbers look better in inches I decided to follow them only. Since it was not easy to find a common denominator (it would yield impractical large numbers) I decided to follow the construction sheet in inches entirely.

The flag field is 36x72 inches. The center of the white ring is in the middle of it (the point surrounded by dots between two lower white stars in my sheet). The diameter of the outer edge of the ring is 16.6 (this is not expressly stated in the sheet, but can be easily computed in two different ways: inner radius plus width of the ring; or hoist minus twice distance from the edge to the ring). The width of the ring is 0.95 and the inner diameter is 14.7 (the original sheets give the radius). The center of the circle that is base for the ring of stars is 2 inches above the mid-point, and the radius of it is 3.25. The stars are inscribed in circles with diameter 3.2, with centers on the aforementioned base circle, at 12 o'clock and then at each 72 degrees (something that is so obvious I did not find it necessary to show on my sheet). The stars are all pointing with one ray towards the top. The crescent is formed with arches of two circles. The inner (upper) edge is formed by a circle with a center coinciding with the center of the "stars-base" circle, with radius 6.4. Now we come to a problem: while it is clearly indicated on the original sheet that the radius of the lower circle is 5.45, it is not at all clear where the center of it should be. After some thinking, I decided that the most probable point (i.e. one giving the best result to match the depictions I had at hand) would be at the base (6 o'clock) of the "stars-base" circle. I indicated that so on the construction sheet, but I left the number 5.45 green as an indicator that this is not certain. Some confirmation would be appreciated.
Željko Heimer, 16 January 2003

I came across some further information on the Ensigns of Singapore. A copy of the government papers with regards to them is kept at the National University
of Singapore (NUS) Central Library. Each of the documents came with a coloured sample of the ensign and their respective construction sheets. I have attached a scan of the construction sheet for the State Ensign and Naval Ensign from the document. Accordingly, these two ensigns share the same construction sheet.

Singapore Merchant Marine Ensign (Singapore (NUS) Central Library Call Number: V305.12Ssm)
Misc. 5 of 1966
Presented to Parliament by the Deputy Prime Minister. Ordered by Parliament to lie upon the Table: 6th September 1966.

"The proper national colours for a registered Singapore ship shall be a red ensign charged with a circle enclosing a crescent surmounted by five stars in a circle, all in white. The ratio of the width to the length of the ensign shall be one to two.
The colours and the crescent and stars are from the Singapore flag."
Herman Felani M.Y., 1 November 2003

Use on Amphibious Vehicles

One tour company in Singapore (Duck & Hippo Group) has amphibious vehicles that provide tours on both the waters around the city area and on the roads of the city as well. As a result, the Singapore Merchant Marine Ensign is flown on the roads around the city too in this unique case.

The stern of the vessel flies both the Singapore national flag and civil ensign for reasons unknown however. Here are some photographs taken by others of these vessels on the streets showing the flags at the stern.


Herman Felani M.Y., 1 February 2010