a famous Fife fishing vessel’s unique heritage has been recognised nationally.
A National Historic Fleet ensign has been presented to the herring drifter Reaper, a two-masted “fifie” in the collection of the Anstruther-based Scottish Fisheries Museum (SFM).
Chairman of National Historic Ships, Dr Robert Prescott, made the presentation during a brief ceremony at Anstruther Harbour - the first such occasion to take place in Scotland.
National Historic Ships, the official voice for historic vessels in the United Kingdom, recently announced that vessels listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels were eligible to fly a unique Red Ensign bearing a logo (such national flags are often referred to as “defaced ensigns”).
The most significant ships on the Register, in heritage terms, carry an additional gold coronet above the National Historic Ships logo and are collectively known as the National Historic Fleet.
The right to fly a defaced ensign is subject to the issue of an official warrant following a lengthy process of scrutiny.
The ensign was designed in consultation with the Flag Institute, inspected by the First Sea Lord at the Admiralty and passed to the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence for final approval.
Also in attendance during Dr Prescott’s presentation to the Reaper were the SFM’s director, Simon Hayhow, and the president, chairman, skipper and members of the museum Boats Club, which maintains and operates the fifie.
Dr Prescott told the gathering: “The privilege of flying this defaced ensign is a significant development in the long campaign to recognise the importance of historic ships in the nation’s heritage.
‘‘It gives me great pleasure to present this ensign to the Reaper, the flagship of the museum’s fleet, for she is a magnificent reminder of the great fleets of sailing vessels that were so important to the economy and social life of Scotland in the past”.
John Firn, chairman of the SFM Boats Club, said: “We are proud to receive this new ensign.
‘‘It will be flown on the Reaper during her voyages to the harbours and communities around the coast which we visit each year as part of our educational and outreach work for the museum.
‘‘ We greatly appreciate this recognition of our vessel’s place in the National Historic Fleet and Scotland’s heritage”.
Mr Hayhow added: “We feel the honour of flying this ensign is a reward for the long years of effort involved in bringing the Reaper back to life and presenting her to the public, both those who visit the museum in Anstruther and those who meet the vessel at remote parts of the coast during her sailing season.”