Navy Moves to Ban Confederate Flags on Bases, Ships and Public Spaces

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A Confederate Navy jack flag sits at the base of the Confederate Mound memorial in Chicago,
FILE -- In this file photo, a Confederate Navy jack flag sits at the base of the Confederate Mound memorial, on August 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Navy's top admiral is following the Marine Corps' lead in banning the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces and work areas.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday has directed his staff to begin crafting an order that would prohibit the Confederate battle flag in many areas on bases, ships, aircraft and submarines.

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"The order is meant to ensure unit cohesion, preserve good order and discipline, and uphold the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment," said Cmdr. Nate Christensen, Gilday's spokesman.

The news comes days after the Marine Corps made official its policy to prohibit flags, T-shirts, mugs and other items that feature the Confederate flag. Commanders are authorized to conduct inspections in some areas -- including schoolhouses, open-bay barracks and bathrooms -- for the paraphernalia.

Statues and other displays honoring Confederate leaders have been coming down across the country as protests continue after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died last month while in police custody. Demonstrators have flooded cities calling for an end to racism and police brutality.

Army officials announced on Monday that top leaders are open to changing long-standing names of installations that honor Confederate leaders. Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus in a Tuesday op-ed for The Atlantic said the move is overdue.

"The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention," Petraeus wrote. "Now, belatedly, is the moment for us to pay such attention."

The Navy has not indicated when an official order banning Confederate items will be complete. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger announced his plans for a policy banning the flag in February, nearly four months before the policy was made official.

Berger told Military.com in March that he chose to move ahead with the ban because anything that divides Marines is not good.

"We have to think as a unit and how to build a team, a cohesive team," Berger said.

Gilday in a video message to sailors last week challenged them to listen to black Americans in and out of uniform that "are in deep pain right now."

"We can't be under any illusions about the fact that racism is alive and well in our country," he said. "And I can't be under any illusions that we don't have it in our Navy."

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Related: From Bumper Stickers to T-Shirts, Confederate Flags Now Officially Off-Limits for Marines

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