Northern Flags runs up the colours for naval gazers

Northern Flags has helped naval supply store Mainbrace Marine provide the Royal Navy’s flags on a number of occasions. This time, however, the recurring client tested just how tight a ship the Leeds-based printer could run with an order of fleet-sized proportions.

What was produced?

A run of 512 new-spec signalling flags for the Royal Navy’s 1st Patrol Squadron, with 16 different designs. Each flag was double-sided, printed on 110gsm knitted polyester, and designs varied between three different shapes – 230x760mm pennants, 460x530mm rectangles and 460x630mm triangles.

What did the job entail?

Each design appeared on a set of 32 flags and both sides of each flag were printed individually – meaning each design was printed 64 times. An Agfa Avinci DX3200 3.2m dye-sublimation printer was used to print the multi-coloured designs and flags were then cut to size on a 3.2m Zünd G3 XL-3200. The two sides of each flag were then hemmed together back-to-back by hand by Northern’s seamstresses.

What challenges were overcome?

A four-day lead time on a vast job like this would daunt the sturdiest crew, but Northern’s 10-strong production team has been doing dye-sublimation jobs like this for many a voyage. Its Agfa printer was the first to be installed in the UK in April last year and another is now on the way, according to production manager Lee Whitaker.

boatsHe said: “We have the benefit of a small, knowledgeable team and I know that it takes good people as well as good machines to pull off a job like this. Our capacity and our size make us quite agile and this is one of our strengths when faced with a unique job such as this.”

What was the feedback?

Mainbrace Marine managing director Chris Ashworth said: “Working closely with Northern Flags has given us the confidence in the quality of bespoke flag manufacturing in our concept systems for the Royal Navy.

“After previous success, we had no hesitation in working again with Northern Flags to equip the 16-ship strong Patrol Boat Squadron. We hope to partner with Northern Flags in the future when dealing globally with other NATO navies who have expressed their interest in the new design.”

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