Chapter Nine
-Customs & Courtesies-

Chapter 9 covers customs and courtesies, such as hand salutes, passing honors, gun salutes and colors.

• A custom is a way of acting that has continued consistently over such a long period of time that it has become like law.

• Many of the US Navy customs came from the British Navy.

Hand Salutes

• The Most common form of a salute is a hand salute.

• Left handed saluting in the Navy is permitted if your right hand/arm is injured.

• Carry all objects in your left hand.

• Start you hand salute approx. six paces from an officer. Hold your salute until you salute is returned or until you are about six paces past the officer. Always accompany your salute with a respectful greeting, ie “Good Morning Commander Brockway”, or “Good Afternoon, Ma’am.”

• Enlisted personnel salute all officers. Officers salute their seniors. Everyone salutes the National Ensign.

• You do not have to salute when uncovered inside, when part of a work detail, when under actual or simulated battle conditions, or when guarding prisoners.


• Honors are salutes rendered to individuals of merit, to high ranking individuals, to ships, and to nations.

• Types of honors:
1. Passing Honors-ship to ship
2. Ship Honors- to officials or officers as they board and depart a Navy ship.
3. Gun Salutes- are rendered to high-ranking individuals, to nations, and to celebrate national holidays.

Passing Honors

• Passing honors are rendered when ships or boats pass close aboard. Close Aboard is
600 Yards for ships
400 Yards for boats

• Signals for actions for passing honors are as follows:
-One blast: attention to starboard
-Two blasts: attention to port

-One blast: hand salute
-Two blasts: end salute
-Three blasts: carry on

• Side honors consist of parading side boys. Side boys can be paraded between 0800 and sunset, except on Sunday. Normally, side boys will not be called away during meal hours, general drills, and all hands evolutions. The number of side boys will vary from two to eight (always and even number) depending on the rank of the individual being saluted.

Gun Salutes

• Gun salutes are used to honor individuals, nations, and certain national holidays.

• Gun salutes always consist of odd numbers, ranging from 5 for vice consul to 21 for President & for rules of a foreign nation. The gun is normally fired at 5 second intervals.

• Gun salutes also mark special holidays:
1. President’s Day
2. Memorial Day
3. Independence Day

• A standard 21 Gun Salute is fired at one minutes intervals, commencing at 1200 and ending at 1220

•Rifle Salutes: There are three rifle salutes:
1. Present Arms
2. At Order Arms
3. At Right Shoulder Arms

• Ceremonies are formal acts performed on public occasions


• The Navy hoists the flag at 0800 and lowers at sunset. This is known as morning and evening colors. All Navy shore commands and ships not underway performs the ceremony of colors every day.

• Before colors are called there is a 5 minute preparative pennant hoisted.

• Remember that the ensign is rasied smartly but lowered ceremoniously

• Navy ships not underway fly the union jack on the jackstaff. The union jack is also flown from a yardarm to denote that a general court-martial is in session.

• Ships underway do not hold morning or evening colors. The ensign is usually flown night and day. Underway the union jack is not flown from the jackstaff.

• Just as a ship gets underway the ensign is shifted from its position on the stern to its at sea position at the main mast. This is called shifting the colors.

• Commission or Command pennants are flown at half mast when the ship’s commanding officer dies.

National Anthem

• Indoors: If the flag is not displayed when the anthem is played inside a building, you stand at attention facing the source of the music. If you are in uniform and covered, render a hand salute, if you are uncovered, stand at attention. If you are in civilian clothes, render the hand over the heart salute.
If the flag is displayed when the anthem is played, you face the flag and stand at attention. If in uniform and covered, render the hand salute. If in civilian clothes or uncovered, you place your right hand over your heart.

•Outdoors: Personnel in boats do not salute during the playing of the Anthem. Only the boat officer or coxsawin(if there is no boat officer) stands and salutes, all other personnel remain seated at attention.

• The music played to honor the president is “Hail to the Chief.”

Military Etiquette

• Aboard the ship the CO is addressed as captain regardless of rank

• Juniors always enter a car first (seated leftmost) and exit last. When walking, Juniors always walk on left side of Seniors.

• The basic rule of etiquette for entering airplanes, boats, and vehicles is Seniors in last and out first. In general, Seniors on a boat take the seats farthest aft.

•Boarding a Vessel: When boarding a ship in which the National Ensign is flying you should:
1. Stop on reaching the upper platform.
2. Face the national ensign and salute
3. Salute the ODD

• As you salute, you say to the ODD, “I request permission to come aboard”. When you leave a ship the order is reversed. First you salute the ODD and say, “I request permission to leave the ship, Sir/Ma’am”. After receiving permission you face and salute the national ensign.

• Review BMR Chapter 9 14325.

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