Ensign is the national flag flown on a vessel to indicate nationality. The ensign is the largest flag, generally flown at the stern of the ship, the naval ensign, used on warships, may be different from the civil ensign or the yacht ensign. Large versions of naval ensigns called battle ensigns are used when a warship goes into battle, the ensign differs from the jack which is flown from a jackstaff at the bow of a vessel. In its widest sense, an ensign is just a flag or other standard, the European military rank of ensign, once responsible for bearing a units standard derives from it. In contrast, the Arab rank of ensign, liwa, derives from the command of a unit or units with an ensign, not the carrier of such a units ensign, and is a general officer. In Arab armies, ensign is a title equivalent to a Western brigade. In nautical use, the ensign is flown on a ship or boat to indicate its appartenance, while this includes its nationality, it may well indicate more information rather than being the national flag itself. This is particularly common for commonwealth and European countries, ensigns are usually at the stern flagstaff when in port, and may be shifted to a gaff or mast amidships when the ship is under way, becoming known as a steaming ensign. Vexillologists distinguish three varieties of a national flag used as an ensign, A civil ensign is worn by merchant. In some countries the yacht ensign, used on boats or ships instead of merchant vessels. A state ensign or government ensign is worn by government vessels, a naval ensign is used by a countrys navy. Such ensigns are strictly regulated and indicate if the vessel is a warship, a merchant ship, several Commonwealth countries national flags had their origin in the ensigns of their original colonising power, the United Kingdom. Most notable of these flags are those of Australia, New Zealand. It is also likely that the original design from which the flag of the United States developed was strongly influenced by the British Red Ensign or the flag of the East India Company. With the creation of independent air forces and the growth in aviation in the first half of the 20th century. These may be divided into air force ensigns and civil air ensigns, in heraldry, an ensign is the ornament or sign, such as the crown, coronet, or mitre, borne above the charge or arms. Distinguishing mark Maritime flag Znamierowski, Alfred, the world encyclopedia of flags, The definitive guide to international flags, banners, standards and ensigns
National civil ensign of New Zealand flown from the stern of Hikitia
The ensign of the French régiment de Navarre, 1745.