Flags, their meaning at sea

Long before the invention of radio, communication between ships was done by sending flags aloft. Each flag represents a letter or a number and each one has a meaning. Back to a page of maritime culture.

Did you know that? The Navy has a flag alphabet. Each letter or number has a meaning. Flags form a language. Alone or in combination, they indicate a situation.

The best known are the A which means, "I have divers in diving" but the Q is also known because you have to hoist it when you arrive in a new country, to ask for customs operations

Today, in the wanderings of easy communications, the pavilion is totally obsolete. But it retains the charm of traditional navigation. And a little nautical culture never hurts.


A (Alpha)

I've got a scuba diver, stand clear and move slowly.


B (Bravo)

I load, or unload, or transport dangerous goods.

C (Charlie)

Yes (affirmative answer), or the above group should be understood as an affirmation

D (Delta)

Don't get in my way, I'm a difficult maneuver..

E (Echoing)

I'm coming to starboard

F (Foxtrot)

I'm distraught, contact me.

G (Golf)

I need a pilot; By a fishing boat: "I'm hauling my nets"

H (Hotel)

I have a pilot on board

I (India)

I'm coming around to port

J (Juliet)

Keep away I have a fire on board and I am carrying dangerous goods, or I have a leak of dangerous substances.

K (Kilo)

I would like to contact you or I invite you to pass on.

L (Lima)

Stop your ship immediately.

M (Mike)

My ship is stopped and has no more wanderings..

N (November)

No (negative response), or the above signal must be understood in negative form.

O (Oscar)

Man overboard

P (Dad)

In port: All persons must report on board, the ship is about to set sail.

Q (Quebec)

My ship is unharmed, I demand free practice.

R (Romeo)

Procedure signal

S (Sierra)

I'm beating back.

T (Tango)

Don't mind me, I'm twin trawling.

U (Uniform)

You're running into danger

V (Victor)

I request assistance

W (Whiskey)

Request for medical assistance

X (X-ray)

Stop your maneuvers and watch for my signals..

Y (Yankee)

My anchor is hunting

Z (Zulu)

I need a tugboat. "By a fishing boat": I'm putting my nets in the water.











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