Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy will fly its 50-star flag, known as the Union Jack, on its ships beginning in June, switching back from the First Navy Jack that has been flown since 2002.
The blue flag with 50 white stars, essentially the upper left quadrant of the U.S. flag, replaces the First Navy Jack, which has been in use on Navy vessels since 2002, the Navy announced on Thursday.
That flag, featuring 13 red and white stripes, a rattlesnake and the phrase "Don't Tread on Me," was first used by the Continental Navy in 1775 during the American Revolution. A version of the traditional Union Jack, which now has 50 white stars on it, was first flown in 1777.
The Navy switched from the traditional Union Jack to the First Navy Jack on Sept. 12, 2002, and was meant to be flown during the global war on terror.
The Navy's return to the union jack will commemorate the 1942 World War II Battle of Midway, and the flag's use will begin on June 4.
"Make no mistake, we have entered a new era of competition. We must recommit to the core attributes that made us successful at Midway: integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. "For more than 240 years, the union jack, flying proudly from jackstaffs aboard U.S. Navy warships, has symbolized these strengths."
The commissioned ship with the longest active status, excluding the USS Constitution, which was commissioned in 1797 and restored as a floating museum in Charlestown, Mass., will display the First Navy Jack. That re-established custom is the honor of the USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the Navy's Seventh Fleet, which was commissioned in 1970.