Navy Bagpiping

Navy Bagpipe Tunes: Please see the Naval Academy Pipes and Drums repertoire web page.

History of Navy Bagpipes:

In the spring of 1999 the U.S. Naval Academy Pipes and Drums became an approved Brigade Support Activity ("BSA") at the United States Naval Academy. Currently, it is the only active duty pipe band in Department of the Navy. 

More information about the role of bagpipes in Navy history will be added as it becomes available.

Navy Events That Utilize Bagpipers:

  • Navy Retirement Ceremonies:  This often entails an upbeat tune like Scotland the Brave as the retiree marches in and Amazing Grace prior to the benediction.
  • Dining In/Out: A bagpiper plays three parts in this event.  First, a couple tunes are played to signal the end of cocktail hour and call to dinner.  This generally entails about three spirited march tunes.  Second, the piper pipes in the head of the table.  This generally entails a slow march.  Finally, Amazing Grace is played after the invocation.
  • Funerals:  From the time the funeral honor detail stands at attention (generally with the arrival of the casket) to the handing of the flag to the next of kin, the only music that can be played at a Navy funeral is Taps on a bugle and Eternal Father by a Navy band.  Bagpipe music can not be played during this time.  It will need to be played before or after this time.  See the RADM Cobb funeral on YouTube as an example of bagpiping at a Navy funeral.  Recommended tunes include The Flowers of the Forest, Going Home, The Craigs of Tumbledown Mountain, The Mist Covered Mountains of Home, and Amazing Grace.
  • Change of Command: Bagpipers are generally asked to play about 5-8 minutes of tunes to kick off the change of command.  This gives guests time to wrap up their discussions and take their seats.  Sometimes the bagpiper will also be asked to play a few tunes after the event ends.  Recommended tunes include upbeat marches such as The Irish Guards Welcome To Toronto, Scotland the Brave, Highland Laddie, Bonny Dundee, The Seige of Delhi, and The Road To The Isles.
Navy Tartans:

The U.S. Navy currently has three tartans; USN Polaris, U.S. Navy (Edzell), and U.S. Sea Bees:

The Edzell tartan was designed by Arthur Mackie of Strathmore Woollens in 1985 for USN personnel at Edzell radar base in Angus, Scotland. The dark blue color was chosen to represent the U.S. Navy, light blue for the Air Force, red stripes for the Marine Corps and Army, and white for the waves of the ocean.

This tartan is owned by Strathmore Woollens.  They weave it in 11.5 and 13 oz/yard weight.
The Polaris tartan was designed for the officers and men of the American Submarine base at the Holy Loch - making the Polaris submarine the first ship in history to have its own tartan. The idea came from Captain Walter F Schlech, Commander of the submarine base. It proved very popular with the men who served there, as it provided a very powerful symbol of there newly found link with Scotland. Currently in use by the USNA Pipes and Drums Band, the Polaris is the only tartan officially in use by an active duty Navy unit.

This tartan is woven by D. C. Dalgliesh in 15 oz/yard weight.
The Sea Bee tartan was designed by Arthur Mackie in co-operation with Lieutenant Lee Josselyn who served with a detachment of SeaBees at RAF Edzell in Scotland in the early 1990's. Lee Josselyn's enthusiasm introduced the concept of wearing tartan to many US servicemen and their families connected with the SeaBees. The Tartan is made up of the following colour combinations which reflect the SeaBee code of conduct: Dark Blue Stripe - 'The Navy we proudly serve'; Light Blue Stripe - 'The Oceans we've crossed'; Brown Stripe - 'The Mountains we've moved'; Red Stripe - 'The Blood nobly shed'; Yellow Cross check - 'The Twinkle in the every SeaBees eye'

This tartan is owned by Strathmore Woollens.  They weave it in 11.5 oz/yard weight.
The U.S. Navy has not yet formally adopted any of these tartans.

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