C h a p t e r - XVIII


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The following flags are international signals used by ships at sea. They can be used to spellout short messages, or more commonly, used individually or in combination they have special meanings. Strung end to end and hung bow to stern from the rigging they are used to dress the ship for ceremonmial and festive occaisions.

Alphabet Flags

Numeric Pennants

Answering Penant & Substitute Pennants

The first substitute repeats the upper flag or pennant of a hoist, the second substitute repeats the second flag or pennant, and so on.

Weather Warning Pennants

Weather Pennants appear either individually or as doubles. When displayed as a pair, they indicate a more severe warning.

A single Strong Wind Pennant : Small craft warning up to 38 mph winds.
Double Strong Wind Pennant : Gale warning 39 - 54 mph winds.
A Single Storm Pennant : Storm Warning 55 - 73 mph winds
Double Storm Pennant : Hurricane Warning 74+ mph winds


Meanings of International Maritime Signal Flags

A - Diver Below (when stationary); I am undergoing a speed trial
B - I am taking on or discharging explosives
C - (affirmative)
D - keep clear of me, I am manoevering with difficulty
E - I am altering my course to starboard
F - I am disabled, communicate with me
G - I require a pilot
H - I have a pilot on board
I - I am altering my course to port
J - I am going to send a message by semaphore
K - you should stop your vessel instantly
L - you should stop, I have something important to communicate
M - I have a doctor on board
N - no (negative)
O - man overboard
P - the Blue Peter - all aboard, vessel is about to proceed sea. (At sea) your lights are out or burning badly
Q - my vessel is healthy and I request free practique
R - the way is off my ship. You may feel you way past me
S - my engines are going full speed astern
T - do not pass ahead of me
U - you are standing into danger
V - I require assistance (not distress)
W - I require medical assistance
X - stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals Y - I am carrying mails
Z - to be used to address or call shore

N + C - I am in distress

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