International Code of Signals

International Code of Signals

The International Code of Signals were first published in 1931 and have been used every since. Each flag has a specific meaning, and by flying a sequence of flags together, you can send a very specific message. These flags are a great means of communication when the sender and receiver don’t speak the same language.

A Alpha - I have a diver down; keep clear and pass at low speed.

B Bravo - I am loading, unloading or carrying dangerous goods.

C Charlie - Yes (confirming a preceding signal).

D Delta - Keep clear, I am maneuvering with difficulty.

E Echo - I am altering course to starboard.

F Foxtrot - I am disabled, communicate with me.

G Golf - I require a pilot. On a fishing vessel: I am hauling in nets.

H Hotel - I have a pilot on board.

I India - I am altering course to port.

J Juliet - I am on fire and have dangerous cargo on board; keep clear.

K Kilo - I wish to communicate with you.

L Lima- You should stop your vessel immediately.

M Mike- My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water.

N November - No or negative (in response to a preceding signal).

O Oscar - Man overboard.

P Papa - I am about to put to sea.

Q Quebec - My vessel is healthy and I request clearance to come into port.

R Romeo - Single letter code R has no allocated meaning.

S Sierra - I am moving astern under power.

T Tango - Keep clear, I am engaged in trawling.

U Uniform - You are running into danger.

V Victor - I require assistance.

W Whisky - I require medical assistance.

X X-ray - Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals.

Y Yankee - I am dragging my anchor.

Z Zulu - I require a tug. On a fishing vessel: I am laying nets.

AP/CF - Answering Pennant/Code Flag. Flown to the end or acknowledge a message and/or show that the international code flags are being used.

0 to 9 - Pennants indicating numerals.

FS - First substitute (for the first flag in the hoist).

SS - Second substitute (for the second flag in the hoist).

TS - Third substitute (for the third flag in the hoist).


World Atlas of Flags by Brian Johnson Barker 2004.

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