[Home]
[Fast Ferry] [Safety] [Poem] [Environmental] [News] [Weather] [Site Map]

FLAGS & SIGNALS

[Merchant Navy]

The use of flags for signalling other ships goes way back to the days of sail , so why is of importance today ? Well even the most advanced technology breaks down now and again . In times of hostilities sometimes communication by flags is more adviseable than by electronic means which could be detected or intercepted . The flags also have an international standing and meaning allowing people from different nations to communicate easily . Different countries place different levels of importance to flags , some demand and enforce a strict flag etiquette while others are more lax . Below are the international maritime signal flags and their meaning . It should be noted that some nations have another localised meaning for a particular flag which is not stated here .

Numerical Flags

These flags are all in the shape of pennants


[1 flag]
1
[2 flag]
2
[3 flag]
3
[4 flag]
4
[5 flag]
5
[6 flag]
6
[7 flag]
7
[8 flag]
8
[9 flag]
9
[0 flag]
0


Alphabetic Single Hoist Flags

These flags come in 2 shapes ;

the Burgee - flags A & B
and normal

[A flag]
A
I have a diver down
please pass at slow speed
[Bflag]
B
I am carrying , loading
or discharging dangerous goods
[C flag]
C
Yes or affirmative
[D flag]
D
I am manoeuvring with difficulty ,
please keep clear
[E flag]
E
I am altering course to starboard
[F flag]
F
I am disabled ,
communicate with me
[G flag]
G
I require a pilot
or when made by fishing vessels
I am hauling my nets
[H flag]
H
I have a pilot onboard
[I flag]
I
I am altering my course to port
[J flag]
J
I am on fire
Keep clear
[K flag]
K
Communictae with me
[L flag]
L
You should stop immediately
[M flag]
M
I am stopped and
making no way through the water
[N flag]
N
No or Negative
[O flag]
O
Man Overboard
[P flag]
P
The Blue Peter
All aboard the vessel is about to set sail
[Q flag]
Q
My ship is healthy
and I require free pratique
[R flag]
R
This flag has no set meaning
[S flag]
S
I am operating stern propulsion
[T flag]
T
Keep clear of me
or when made by fishing boats
I am engaged in pair trawling
[U flag]
U
You are sailing into danger
[V flag]
V
I require assistance
[W flag]
W
I require medical assistance
[X flag]
X
Stop what you are doing and watch for my signals
[Y flag]
Y
I am dragging my anchor
[Z flag]
Z
I require a tug
or when made by fishing boats
I am shooting my nets

Substitutes


[1st sub flag] 1st Substitute
[2nd sub flag] 2nd Substitute
[3rd sub flag] 3rd Substitute

Others

[Code&Answer]Code and Answering Pennant

Flags can also be hoisted in combination withothers to give new meanings . I have listed some below ;

AE = I must abandon my vessel
BF = Aircraft is ditched in position indicated and requires immediate assistance
CB = I require immediate assistance
CB6 = I require immediate assistance , I am on fire
CP = I am proceeding to your assistance
DX = I am sinking
ED = Your distress signals are understood
EL = Repeat the distress position
NE2 = Submarines in vicinity - keep clear
NG = In Distress
RU8 = Submarine about to surface within next 30 minutes within 2 miles of me


Distress and Life Saving Signals


If you go to sea you SHOULD know the following signals ;

top [Home]

This page was created 21st October 1998 and last updated 21st October 1998