Maritime flag signaling has a long history and remains the preferred means of signaling in many situations.
These International code flags are used to signal between two ships or between ship and shore. Called signaling flags, they are a set of flags of different colors, shapes and markings which used singly or in combination have different meanings. The flags include 26 square flags which depict the letters of the alphabet, ten numeral pendants, one answering pendant, and three substituters or repeaters. These flags are designed to be in colours which can be readily distinguished at sea. (red, blue, yellow, black, and white)
As a recreational boater these are the flags you should know and and be able to identify when you are out on the water
A- Alpha Flag – Diver down
If you boat in NSW this means if you are travelling at a speed of 10 knots or more and you see the A Flag displayed you must keep a minimum of 60 metres from persons in the water. As divers/snorkelers may not always be in close proximity of the diver’s flag it is important that as soon as you see the flag to slow down, keep well clear and keep a good lookout.
B- Bravo Flag – Dangerous cargo on board
D- Delta Flag – Keep clear manouvering with difficulty
H – Hotel Flag – Ship Pilot on board
N- November flag – No and C – Charlie Flag – Yes
The flags N over C mean “I am in distress and require immediate assistance.”
Read more on the National Maritime College website and refresh your knowledge of maritime radio and phonetic terminology.