International Maritime Signal Flags

This page lists of the various symbols in the International Maritime Signal Flags group.

The system of international maritime signal flags is one system of flag signals representing individual letters of the alphabet in signals to or from ships. It is a component of the International Code of Signals (ICS).

There are various methods by which the flags can be used as signals:

* each flag spells an alphabetic message, letter by letter.

* individual flags have specific and standard meanings

* one or more flags form a code word whose meaning can be looked up in a code book held by both parties.

* in yacht racing and dinghy racing, flags have other meanings.

NATO uses the same flags, with a few unique to warships, alone or in short sets to communicate various unclassified messages. The NATO usage generally differs from the International meanings, and therefore warships will fly the Code/Answer flag above the signal to indicate it should be read using the International meaning.

Symbols in this group:

A (Alfa)

"I have a diver down; keep well clear at slow speed."

With three numerals, azimuth or bearing.

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B (Bravo)

"I am taking in, or discharging, or carrying dangerous goods."

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C (Charlie)

"Affirmative."

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D (Delta)

"Keep clear of me; I am maneuvering with difficulty."

With two, four, or six numerals, date.

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E (Echo)

"I am altering my course to starboard."

Crew at meals

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F (Foxtrot)

"I am disabled; communicate with me." (When flown from an aircraft carrier; "Warning; flight operations under way.")

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G (Golf)

"I require a pilot."

When made by fishing vessels operating in proximity of the fishing grounds it means: "I am hauling nets."

With four or five numerals, longitude. (The last two numerals denote minutes and the rest degrees.)

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H (Hotel)

"I have a pilot on board."

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I (India)

"I am altering my course to port."

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J (Juliet)

"I am on fire and have dangerous cargo on board: keep well clear of me.", or "I am leaking dangerous cargo."

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K (Kilo)

"I wish to communicate with you." With one numeral, "I wish to communicate with you by..."; 1) Morse signalling by hand-flags or arms; 2) Loud hailer (megaphone); 3) Morse signalling lamp; 4) Sound signals.

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L (Lima)

In harbour: "The ship is quarantined."

At sea: "You should stop your vessel instantly."

With four numerals, latitude. (The first two denote degrees and the rest minutes.)

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M (Mike)

"My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water."

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O (Oscar)

"Man overboard." (often attached to the man overboard pole on boats).

With a sinister hoist, the semaphore flag.

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P (Papa)

The Blue Peter.

In harbor: All persons should report on board as the vessel is about to proceed to sea.

At sea: It may be used by fishing vessels to mean: "My nets have come fast upon an obstruction."

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Q (Quebec)

"My vessel is 'healthy' and I request free pratique."

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R (Romeo)

"The way is off my ship."

With one or more numerals, distance (range) in nautical miles.

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S (Sierra)

"I am operating astern propulsion."

With one or more numerals, speed in knots

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T (Tango)

"Keep clear of me; I am engaged in pair trawling."

With four numerals, local time. (The first two denote hours and the rest minutes.)

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U (Uniform)

"You are running into danger."

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V (Victor)

"I require assistance."

With one or more numerals, speed in kilometres per hour.

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W (Whiskey)

"I require medical assistance."

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X (Xray)

"Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals."

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Y (Yankee)

"I am dragging my anchor."

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Z (Zulu)

"I require a tug."

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"International Maritime Signal Flags Symbols." Symbols.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 23 Aug. 2019. <https://www.symbols.com/group/7/International+Maritime+Signal+Flags>.

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