For almost 2 centuries the International Maritime Signal Flag System has been used by mariners to send messages between two ships or ship and shore and are still in use today.  Strung end to end and hung bow to stern  from the rigging they are primarily used to dress vessels for ceremonials and other festive occasions. Also referred to as signaling flags, they are a set of flags of different colors, shapes and markings which used singly or in combination have different meanings. Signal flags consist of a set of 26 different square flags each representing a particular letter of the alphabet plus 10 pendants representing the numbers 0 to 9. With these 36 nautical signal flags, any message can be spelled out for all to see. In addition there is one answering pennant and three substituters or repeaters.

Nautical Flags - Alphabet & Numbers & Meanings with Morse Code
Nautical Flags - Weather Warning Flag Signals
Nautical Flags - 2 Flag Signals

Nautical Flags - Alphabet & Numbers

 Flag NameInternational Nautical Meaning
 Diver Down Keep Well Clear at Slow Speed
 B  Bravo
 I Am Taking In, Discharging or Carrying Dangerous Cargo
C  Charlie
 "Yes" or "Affirmative"
 D  Delta
 I Am Maneuvering With Difficulty; Keep Clear
 E  Echo
 I am Altering Course To Starboard
 F  Foxtrot
 I am Disabled; Communicate With Me
 Aircraft Carriers - Flight Operations Are Underway
 G  Golf
 I Require A Pilot
 H  Hotel
 I Have A Pilot On Board
 I  India
 Altering Course To Port
 Coming Along Side (Navy)


 I Am On Fire Have Dangerous Cargo Keep Clear .---
 K  Kilo
 I Desire To Communicate With You
 L  Lima
 Stop Instantly
 M  Mike
 My Vessel Is Stopped; Making No Way  --
 N  November
 "No" or "Negative"
 O  Oscar
 Man Overboard
 P  Papa
 About To Sail
 Q  Quebec
 Ship Meets Health Regs Request Clearance Into Port
 Boat Recall; All boats Return to Ship (Navy)
 R  Romeo


 Engines Going Astern
 Conducting Flag Hoist Drill (Navy)
 T  Tango
 Keep Clear; Engaged in Trawling
 Do Not Pass Ahead of Me (Navy)
 U  Uniform
 You Are Running Into Danger
 V  Victor
 I Require Assistance
 W  Whiskey
 I Require Medical Assistance
 X  X Ray
 Stop Carrying Out Your Intentions & Watch For My Signals
 Y  Yankee
 I am Dragging Anchor
 Ship Has Visual Communications Duty (Navy)
 Z  Zulu
 I Require A Tug
 No Navy Number International Morse
 1  One  .----
 2  Two  ..---
 3  Three  ...--
 4  Four  ....-
 5  Five  .....
 6  Six  -....
 7  Seven  --...
 8  Eight  ---..
 9  Nine  ----.
 0  Zero  -----

 Code &

 End of Message
 Answering Pennant
 1st  1st Sub
 1st Repeat/Substitute
 2nd  2nd Sub
 2nd Repeat/Substitute
 3rd  3rd Sub
 3rd Repeat/Substitute 

Nautical Flags - Weather Warning Flag Signals (Ist Flag Above the Second)

  Flag Description knots/hr km/hrStatute
  Small Craft Warning
 20 - 33 kn
 37 - 62 km/h  23 - 28 mph
 20 - 33 Nm/h
 Gale Warning
  34 - 47 kn
 63 - 87 km/h
 39 - 54 mph
  34 - 47 Nm/h
   Storm Warning
 48 - 63 kn
 88 - 117 km/h
 55 - 72 mph
 48 - 63 Nm/h
 Hurricane Warning
 64 kn +
 118 km/h +
 73 mph +
 64 + Nm/h

Two Letter Signals (1st Flag Above the Second)

 AC   I Am Abandoning My Vessel
 AN   I Need a Doctor
 BR   I Require A Helicopter
 CD   I Require Immediate Assistance
 DV   I Am Drifting
 EF   SOS/Mayday Has Been Cancelled
 FA   Will You Give Me My Position
   Man Overboard Please Take Action To Pick Him Up
   You Are Running A Risk Of Going Aground
 LO   I Am Not In My Correct Position
 NC   I Am in Distress and Require Immediate Assistance
 PD   Your Navigation Lights Are Not Visible
 PP   Keep Well Clear of Me
 RU   Keep Clear of Me I Am Maneuvering With Difficulty
 SO   You Should Stop Your Vessel
 UM   The Harbor Is Closed To Traffic
 UP   Permission to Enter Harbor Is Urgently Requested. I Have An Emergency
 QD   I Am Going Ahead
 QT   I am Going Astern
 QQ   I Require Health Clearance
 QU   Anchoring Is Prohibited
 QX   I Request Permission To Anchor

 I Am Going To Communicate With Your Station By Means of the
 International Code of Signals

 ZL   Your Signal Has Been Received But Not Understood

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