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.

Read more »

B (Bravo)

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

Read more »

C (Charlie)


Read more »

D (Delta)

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

With two, four, or six numerals, date.

Read more »

E (Echo)

"I am altering my course to starboard."

Crew at meals

Read more »

F (Foxtrot)

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

Read more »

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.)

Read more »

H (Hotel)

"I have a pilot on board."

Read more »

I (India)

"I am altering my course to port."

Read more »

J (Juliet)

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

Read more »

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.

Read more »

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.)

Read more »

M (Mike)

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

Read more »

O (Oscar)

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

With a sinister hoist, the semaphore flag.

Read more »

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."

Read more »

Q (Quebec)

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

Read more »

R (Romeo)

"The way is off my ship."

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

Read more »

S (Sierra)

"I am operating astern propulsion."

With one or more numerals, speed in knots

Read more »

Skinny Dipper Flag

A skinny dipper is someone who swims naked,

The Skinny Dipper Flag was designed by the nAKed Friends in Alaska. to inform others that they are entering an area where there could be social nudity.

The yellow on top represents the the sun and the heat; the blue represents the sky around the sun and the water below it.

Read more »

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.)

Read more »

U (Uniform)

"You are running into danger."

Read more »

V (Victor)

"I require assistance."

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

Read more »

W (Whiskey)

"I require medical assistance."

Read more »

X (Xray)

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

Read more »

Y (Yankee)

"I am dragging my anchor."

Read more »

Z (Zulu)

"I require a tug."

Read more »

Have a discussion about the International Maritime Signal Flags group with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this symbols group page to your bibliography:


    "International Maritime Signal Flags Symbols." STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 18 May 2024. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest human-edited symbols collection on the web!

    Graphical Index

    Use our unique search feature to find a symbol based on its various graphical characteristics:

    • Symmetry:
    • Shape:
    • Colors:
    • Curveness:
    • Crossing:


    Are you a world flags master?

    A Poland
    B Peru
    C Oman
    D Austria