The destroyer USS Kidd (DDG-100) returned to its Everett naval station in the port of Washington, flying Jolly Roger – the flag with skull and bone associated with pirates – alongside the American, after missions in an area of operations that includes the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean region. Although his detachment was successful, this is not the reason for raising the pirate flag.
The destroyer USS Kidd, seconded in April, took part in operations against drug trafficking, and at one point helped the Coast Guard to intercept a cargo of 805 kilograms of cocaine, the US Navy said.
— USS Kidd (@USSKIDD_DD661) September 24, 2020
Only three American warships named Kidd after an American rear admiral killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, hoisted this flag. Now an indicator of a successful patrol mission, it is a tradition started by the British Royal Navy in World War I after the sinking of the twin cruiser Hela by the submarine HMS E-9.
The first destroyer named Kidd was one of the Fletcher class and is named after Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd nicknamed “Head” – a reference to a famous Scottish pirate born in the 17th century, Captain William Kidd. The crew of the USS Kidd, launched in 1943, adopted the pirate as its mascot. During its first mission, the ship hoisted the flag with the permission of the admiral’s widow who convinced the navy to allow it. Since then, the ship’s sailors have become known as the “Pirates of the Pacific.”
The USS Kidd is the only surface-to-air ship in the US Navy that is allowed to fly the Jolly Roger flag. The destroyer of the class Arleigh Burke, launched in 2007, the third ship with this name, “continues the tradition of flying the Jolly Roger with pride and distinction”, according to the US Navy.
This week’s photo of the USS Kidd flying the pirate flag came just months after the Pentagon issued a memorandum restricting the flying of certain types of flags.
However, a spokesman for the US Navy told Insider that “Jolly Roger is the unit flag of the USS Kidd”, and its hoisting “is explicitly allowed by the memorandum”.
The pirate flag was also flown in 2017 when the Seawolf-class assault submarine Jimmy Carter returned to its Kitsap-Bangor naval base in Washington.