A spokesman for the U.S. Navy has officially denied allegations,
raised in a WorldNetDaily report, that President Clinton will alter
long-standing Navy regulations to allow the U.S. flag to be flown in a
subordinate position to that of communist Vietnam.
Wednesday that, according to highly placed and credible Navy sources, President Clinton plans to visit the People’s Republic of China and the People’s Republic of Vietnam on a U.S. Navy destroyer before the end of his term. The Naval officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the president also plans to alter long-standing naval regulations and tradition in order to allow the American flag to be flown below that of Vietnam when the vessel sails into the communist nation’s territorial waters.
Although U.S. Navy regulations and traditions dating back to before the Revolutionary War prescribe that no country’s flag be displayed in a position superior to that of the U.S. flag, Vietnam reportedly has a rule demanding that the Vietnamese flag shall always fly in a superior position to any other country’s flag. Thus the alleged planned pandering on the part of the president not to offend the sensibilities of Vietnam’s totalitarien government.
WND contacted several government agencies in an effort to get official response to two basic questions:
Does President Clinton intend to visit China and Vietnam before leaving office?
Has the secretary of the Navy been instructed to amend Navy regulations in order to permit the flag of Vietnam to fly in a superior position to the U.S. flag?
In response, Alan P. Goldstein, assistant chief of information for technology integration in the Navy’s Office of Information in the Pentagon answered WND’s questions in writing:
“The Navy is not aware of any planned trips by the President to China or Vietnam aboard a Navy ship. I have also read the article in the Internet publication and can assure you that there are no plans to change the regulations governing the flying of the U.S. flag on U.S. Navy warships. Federal statutes determine Navy Regulations on the flying of the national ensign on Navy vessels, and are not subject to alteration by the Department of the Navy.”
Highly placed Navy sources believe this action on the president’s part would further devastate already tenuous Navy morale. The results of a record-breaking WorldNetDaily reader poll (over 99 percent of 15,000+ respondents said they would be either “outraged” or “ashamed” if “the U.S. Navy dips the American flag to the flags of Vietnam and China”) indicate those expressed concerns may be an understatement.
Goldstein included excerpts from Navy regulations that apply:
Navy Regulations, 1990, Chapter 12
Section 1277, Paragraph 1: “When the national ensigns of two or more nations are required to be displayed from the same masthead, the United States national ensign, if required, shall be displayed to starboard of all others. The national ensigns of other nations shall be displayed, starboard to port, in alphabetical order of the names of the nations in the English language; except that the ensign of a foreign nation within whose waters the ship is located, if displayed, shall be to starboard of other foreign ensigns.
Paragraph 3: “In rendering honors, the national ensign of one nation shall not be displayed above that of another nation at the same masthead.”
Section 1279, Paragraph 3: “When dressing or full-dressing ship in honor of a foreign nation, the national ensign of that nation shall replace the United States national ensign at the main, or at the masthead in the case of a single-masted ship; provided that when a ship is full-dressed or dressed in honor of more than one nation, the ensign of each nation shall be displayed at the main, or at the masthead in a single-masted ship.”
Paragraph 6: “Ships not under way shall be dressed or full-dressed from 0800 until sunset. Ships under way shall not be dressed or full-dressed.”
Sources have emphasized that the alleged plans were reported in high-level briefings, and that although concerns for career advancement and military politics have intimidated them, they were anxious that the story be reported in the hope “disinfectant sunshine” would kill the plans.