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Navy Signal Flags

What are Navy Signal Flags or Nautical Signal Flags?

The examples I through V provide two-letter signals for General Signal Code with variations and compliments.
Two-Letter Signal Code Examples
I.
Distress—Emergency Code
II. Casualties—Damages Code
III. Aids to Navigation—Navigation Code
IV. Maneuvers Code
V. Miscellaneous Code

Signal flags are a uniform set of easily identifiable nautical codes and are used to convey visual messages and signals between two ships or from ship-to-shore. They are based on a internationally recognized set of codes referred to as the International Code of Signals and is published in nine languages; English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish, Norwegian, Russian and Greek. The codes are important for safety and are crucial when language barriers exist.

The Origins of Signal Flag Codes

The use of flags to send messages while at sea actually dates back as far as the Middle Ages. However, the most detailed sets of flag codes were first developed by the British during the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815) to convey messages and signals between two ships and ship-to-shore. The code of signals we use today was first established in 1857 by the British Board Trade and was revised in 1932. The International Code of Signals became effective in 1969 and this document is based on the 2003 revision in certain examples.

Pictures of U.S. Navy Signal Flags and What They Mean

Single-letter signals allocated to significations which are very urgent, important, or of very common use. Some flags have alternate meanings. Click the links or signal flag pictures to read more. The size of flags should vary based on the length of the vessel. The flag colors red, yellow, white, black, and blue are colors that tend to stand out the best at sea and are easily distinguished based on the contrasting colors inherent to the design. The flags are usually constructed using nylon fabric with double-stitched seams and are normally secured with nylon rope lines and rings. Note: examples of messages will be posted here once all the flags are described.

Signal flag, Diver Down

A - ALPHA
Diver Down

Signal flag, Dangerous Cargo

B - BRAVO
Dangerous Cargo

Signal flag, Affirmative

C - CHARLIE
Affirmative

Signal flag, Maneuvering Difficulty

D - DELTA
Maneuvering Difficulty

Signal flag, Changing Course to Starboard

E - ECHO
Changing Course to Starboard

Signal flag, Disabled

F - FOXTROT
Disabled

Signal flag, Pilot Required

G - GOLF
Pilot Required

Signal flag, Pilot Onboard

H - HOTEL
Pilot Onboard

Signal flag, Changing Course Toward Port

I - INDIA
Changing Course to Port

Signal flag, On Fire

J - JULIET
On Fire

Signal flag, Contact Me

K - KILO
Contact Me

Signal flag, Important Message

L - LIMA
Important Message

Signal flag, My Vessel Stopped, Lost Power

M - MIKE
My Vessel Stopped, Lost Power

Signal flag, Negative

N - NOVEMBER
Negative

Signal flag, Man Overboard

O - OSCAR
Man Overboard

Signal flag, Leaving Port

P - PAPA
Leaving Port

Signal flag, Ship is Healthy

Q - QUEBEC
Ship is Healthy

Signal flag, Feel Your Way Past Me

R - ROMEO
Feel Your Way Past Me

Signal flag, Going Full Astern

S - SIERA
Going Full Astern

Signal flag, Keep Clear, Am Trawling

T - TANGO
Keep Clear, Am Trawling

Signal flag, You Are in Danger

U - UNIFORM
You Are in Danger

Signal flag, Need Assistance

V - VICTOR
Need Assistance

Signal flag, Medical Aid Needed

W - WHISKEY
Medical Aid Needed

Signal flag, Stop! Watch for My Signals

X - X-RAY
Stop! Watch for My Signals

Signal flag, Dragging Anchor

Y - YANKEE
Dragging Anchor

Signal flag, Require Tug

Z - ZULU
Require Tug

Signal flag, Zero (0)

0 - Zero
Number Zero

Signal flag, One (1)

1 - One
Number One

Signal flag, Two (2)

2 - Two
Number Two

Signal flag, Three (3)

3 - Three
Number Three

Signal flag, Four (4)

4 - Four
Number Four

Signal flag, Five (5)

5 - Five
Number Five

Signal flag, Six (6)

6 - Six
Number Six

Signal flag, Seven (7)

7 - Seven
Number Seven

Signal flag, Eight (8)

8 - Eight
Number Eight

Signal flag, Nine (9)

9 - Nine
Number Nine

Dangerous Beast

Dangerous Beast
Dangerous Beast

     

Pictures of Signal Flag Pennants and Naval Manuevering Signals


Answer Signal Pennant

Answer

First Substitute Pennant

First Substitute Pennant

Second Substitute Pennant

Second Substitute Pennant

Third Substitute Pennant

Third Substitute Pennant

Fourth Substitute Pennant

Fourth Substitute Pennant

Signal Pennant #0

Signal Pennant #0 Numerical

Signal Pennant #1

Signal Pennant #1 Numerical

Signal Pennant #2

Signal Pennant #2 Numerical

Signal Pennant #3

Signal Pennant #3 Numerical

Signal Pennant #4

Signal Pennant #4 Numerical

Signal Pennant #5

Signal Pennant #5 Numerical

Signal Pennant #6

Signal Pennant #6 Numerical

Signal Pennant #7

Signal Pennant #7 Numerical

Signal Pennant #8

Signal Pennant #8 Numerical

Signal Pennant #9

Signal Pennant #9 Numerical

Emergency Pennant

Emergency Pennant

Station Pennant

Station Pennant

Speed Pennant

Speed Pennant

Squadron

Squadron

Division

Division

Port

Port

Group Pennant

Group Pennant

Formation Pennant

Formation Pennant

Starboard Pennant

Starboard Pennant

Turn Pennant

Turn Pennant

Course Pennant

Course Pennant

Negation Pennant

Negation Pennant

Designation Pennant

Designation Pennant

Question Pennant

Question Pennant

Preparative Pennant

Preparative Pennant


Fun With Signal Flag Code


Waterproof Playing Cards: Nautical Flags and Their Meanings
Waterproof Playing Cards: Nautical Flags and Their Meanings



Browse Signal Code Flags Nylon With Grommets
Signal Code Flags Nylon With Grommets
Fun Mini-Signal Flag Code Set
Fun Mini-Signal Flag Code Set


References:


1. USN, U.S. Navy Signal Flags, August 2009.

2. Lunde, P 2009, The Book of Codes

3. Bartlet, J., 2010

4. Flag Symbol Designs by info@sleewee.com

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_maritime_signal_flags

6. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

7. Chapman Piloting, 63rd Edition 1999.

8. National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Pub 102, rev. 2003