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Nautical Flags

Signal flags are used to communicate messages, at times because radio silence is required. Here are their names and meanings, both International and/or specific to the Navy, as well as meanings when used in a Sailing Regatta. There is also a signaling system called Semaphore which uses the position of the flags relative to a person to denote the letter.

Flag Name &
Phonetic Pronunciation
Meaning
Alfa

AL-fah

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

BRAH-voh

I am taking in, discharging, or carrying dangerous cargo.
Charlie

CHAR-lee

"Yes" or "affirmative".

Change of Course (Sailing Regatta)

Delta

DELL-tah

I am maneuvering with difficulty; keep clear.
Echo

ECK-oh

I am directing my course to starboard.
Foxtrot

FOKS-trot

I am disabled; communicate with me.
On aircraft carriers: Flight Operations underway
Golf

GOLF

I require a pilot.
Hotel

hoh-TELL

I have a pilot on board.
India

IN-dee-ah

I am directing my course to port. (International)

Coming alongside. (Navy)

Round the Ends Starting Rule (Sailing Regatta)

Juliet

JEW-lee-ett

I am on fire and have dangerous cargo; keep clear.
Kilo

KEY-loh

I wish to communicate with you.
Lima

LEE-mah

You should stop your vessel immediately.

Come Within Hail or Follow Me (Sailing Regatta)

Mike

MIKE

My vessel is stopped; making no way.

Mark Missing (Sailing Regatta)

November

no-VEM-bur

No or negative.

Abandonment and Re-sail (Sailing Regatta)

Oscar

OSS-kur

Man overboard.
Papa

pah-PAH

All personnel return to ship; proceeding to sea (Inport).
Quebec

kay-BECK

Ship meets health regs; request clearance into port. (International)

Boat recall; all boats return to ship. (Navy)

Romeo

ROH-me-oh

None. (International)

Preparing to replenish (At sea). Ready duty ship (In port). (Navy)

Sierra

see-AIR-ah

Moving astern. (International)

Conducting flag hoist drill. (Navy)

Shorten Course (Sailing Regatta)

Tango

TANG-go

Keep clear; engaged in trawling. (International)

Do not pass ahead of me. (Navy)

Uniform

YOU-nee-form

You are running into danger.
Victor

VIK-tah

I require assistance.
Whiskey

WISS-kee

I require medical assistance.
Xray

ECKS-ray

Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals.

Individual Recall (Sailing Regatta)

Yankee

YANG-kee

I am dragging anchor. (International)

Ship has visual communications duty. (Navy)

Wear Life Jackets (Sailing Regatta)

Zulu

ZOO-loo

I require a tug.

20% Scoring Penalty (Sailing Regatta)

Code/Answer

Code or Answer

Message is understood. Also, numeric decimal point. (International)

Flag that follows is from the International Code of Signals. (Navy)

Postponement (Sailing Regatta)

First substitute

First sub

Substitute for the first flag in this hoist. (International)

Absence of flag officer or unit commander (In port). (Navy)

General Recall (Sailing Regatta)

Second substitute

Second sub

Substitute for the second flag in this hoist. (International)

Absence of chief of staff (In port). (Navy)

Third substitute

Third sub

Substitute for the third flag in this hoist. (International)

Absence of commanding officer (In port). (Navy)

One

WUN

None. (International)

Numeral one. (Navy)

Two

TOO

None. (International)

Numeral two. (Navy)

Three

TREE

None. (International)

Numeral three. (Navy)

Four

FOW-er

None. (International)

Numeral four. (Navy)

Five

FIFE

None. (International)

Numeral five. (Navy)

Six

SICKS

None. (International)

Numeral six. (Navy)

Seven

SEV-en

None. (International)

Numeral seven. (Navy)

Eight

ATE

None. (International)

Numeral eight. (Navy)

Nine

NIN-er

None. (International)

Numeral nine. (Navy)

Zero

ZEE-roh

None. (International)

Numeral zero. (Navy)

Pennant one

PEN-ant WUN

Numeral one. (International)

Pennant one. (Navy)

Pennant two

PEN-ant TOO

Numeral two. (International)

Pennant two. (Navy)

Pennant three

PEN-ant TREE

Numeral three. (International)

Pennant three. (Navy)

Pennant four

PEN-ant FOW-er

Numeral four. (International)

Pennant four. (Navy)

Postponement (Sailing Regatta)

Pennant five

PEN-ant FIFE

Numeral five. (International)

Pennant five. (Navy)

Pennant six

PEN-ant SICKS

Numeral six. (International)

Pennant six. (Navy)

Pennant seven

PEN-ant SEV-en

Numeral seven. (International)

Pennant seven. (Navy)

Pennant eight

PEN-ant ATE

Numeral eight (International)

Pennant eight. (Navy)

Pennant Nine

PEN-ant NIN-er

Numeral nine (International)

Pennant nine. (Navy)

Pennant zero

PEN-ant ZEE-roh

Numeral zero (International)

Pennant zero. (Navy)

Coastal Storm Warning Flags

warn.gif (1042 bytes)
Small Craft Advisory
23-38 mph
20-33 knots

 

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warn.gif (1042 bytes)
Gale Warning
39-54 mph
34-47 knots

 

storm.gif (1091 bytes)
Storm Warning
55-73 mph
48-63 knots

 

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storm.gif (1091 bytes)
Hurricane Warning
74+ mph
64+ knots

 

 

 

 


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