Flag Signalling:

This involves the use of flags and pennants displayed from 'halyards' and is employed by ships and shore establishments and is limited to daylight use and comparatively short distances. The flags and pennants used in Naval signalling comprise of: Alphabetical flags, Numeral pennants and Substitutes, Numerical flags, Special flags, Special pennants and Fourth substitute (Fig: 1 and 2).

Each flag and pennant is allocated a meaning, this may vary with the circumstances in which it was hoisted, either at sea or in harbour. Additionally, two or more flags may form a group, which is also allocated a meaning.

Therfore a flag signal may consist of; A single flag or pennant, a combination of flags and / or pennants in one hoist, several hoists flying simultaneously (which are read in their relative sequence), several displays each of one or more hoists, the displays being hoisted consecutively.

This combination of flags, together with their different meanings, is known as a 'signal code'. Two codes are in use by the Allied Navies, the Naval code (used by warships) and the International code (used by merchant ships and between warships and merchant ships).



The meanings given are those of the International Code only

A = ALFA. I am undergoing a Speed Trial N = NOVEMBER. No (Negative)
B = BRAVO. I am taking in or discharging explosives O = OSCAR. * Man Overboard
C = CHARLIE. Yes (Affirmative) P = PAPA. * In Harbour: All persons are to repair on board as the vessel is about to proceed to sea. * At Sea: Your lights are out or burning badly
D = DELTA. Keep clear of me - I am manoeuvring with difficulty Q = QUEBEC. My vessel is healthy and I require free Pratique
E = ECHO. I am directing my course to Starboard R = ROMEO. * The way is off my ship - you may feel your way past me
F = FOXTROT. * I am disabled - communicate with me S = SIERRA. My engines are going full speed Astern
G = GOLF. I require a Pilot T = TANGO. Do not pass ahead of me
H = HOTEL. I have a Pilot on board U = UNIFORM. * You are standing into Danger
I = INDIA. I am directing my course to Port V = VICTOR. * I require Assistance
J = JULIET. I am going to send a message by Semaphore W = WHISKEY. * I require Medical Assistance
K = KILO. * You should stop your vessel instantly X = XRAY. Stop carrying out intentions and watch for my Signals
L = LIMA. * You should stop - I have something important to communicate Y = YANKEE. I am carrying Mails
M = MIKE. I have a Doctor on board Z = ZULU. * To be used to address or call Shore Stations

Note:- Only those letters & meanings marked * may be indicated by the Morse Code either by sound or by flashing


Code & Answer

Used to acknowledge a signal. Also flown by a Warship when making a flag signal from the International Code to distinguish it from the Naval Code

Numeral Pennants

ONE = Wun SIX = Six
TWO = Too SEVEN = Se-ven
THREE = Thuh-ree EIGHT = Ate
FOUR = Fo-wer NINE = Ni-ner
FIVE = Fi-yiv ZERO = Zero



1st Substitute:

Used to repeat the first flag or pennant in the same hoist

2nd Substitue:

Used to repeat the second flag or pennant in the same hoist

3rd Substitute:

Used to repear the third flag or pennant in the same hoist


(Fig: 1 and 2)