The decommissioning ceremony marks the retirement of a ship as a unit of the operating forces of the United States Navy? On 9 June 1945, when the order to commission this ship was given, a commissioning pennant was first hoisted to the forward truck. A pennant has flown there through 36 years of proud service. Today, when the commissioning pennant is hauled down for the final time, USS McKEAN (DD-784) will no longer be the responsibility of her commanding officer. Until this moment, he, along with the ship's officers and men, had the responsibility of making and keeping her constantly ready for any service demand ed by our country in peace or war.
The commissioning pennant is said to date from the 17th century, stemming from an incident between the warring Dutch and English Navies. In one particular engagement, Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp, the Dutch Admiral, hoisted a broom at his masthead to indicate his intention to sweep the English from the sea. The English Admiral then hoisted a horsewhip, indicating his intention to chastise the insolent Dutchman. Ever since that time, the narrow "coachwhip" pennant, symbolizing the original horsewhip, has been the distinctive mark of a man-of-war. This tradition of so designating ships of war has been adopted by all nations.
The modern United States Navy commissioning pennant is blue at the hoist with a horizontal red and white stripe at the fly and varies in length with the size of the ship. At one time, there were thirteen white stars in the blue field representing the original states but in 1933, seven white stars became standard. It is a naval custom that when the commissioning pennant is hauled down for the last time, it be presented to the commanding officer.