Maritime Signal Flags

U.S. Navy Signal Flags

Even in these days of radio and satellite communications, the U.S. Navy uses the international alphabet flags, numeral pennants, numeral flags, and special flags and pennants for visual signaling. These signal flags are used to communicate while maintaining radio silence. Navy Signalmen transmit messages by hoisting a flag or a series of flags on a halyard. Each side of the ship has halyards and a "flag bag", containing a full set of signal flags. Signals unique to the Navy are used when communicating with other U.S. Navy or allied forces. When communicating with all other vessels, the International Code of Signals is used. The code/answer pennant precedes all signals in international code.
Flag Name Phonetic Pronunciation Navy Meaning International Meaning
Alpha 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".
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 Coming alongside. I am directing my course to port.
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.
Mike MIKE My vessel is stopped; making no way.
November no-VEM-bur No or negative.
Oscar OSS-kur Man overboard.
Papa pah-PAH All personnel return to ship; proceeding to sea (Inport).
Quebec kay-BECK Boat recall; all boats return to ship. Ship meets health regs; request clearance into port.
Romeo ROH-me-oh Preparing to replenish (At sea). Ready duty ship (Inport). None.
Sierra see-AIR-ah Conducting flag hoist drill. Moving astern.
Tango TANG-go Do not pass ahead of me. Keep clear; engaged in trawling.
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.
Yankee YANG-kee Ship has visual communications duty. I am dragging anchor.
Zulu ZOO-loo I require a tug.
Code/Answer Code or Answer Flag that follows is from the International Code of Signals. Message is understood. Also, numeric decimal point.
First substitute First sub Absence of flag officer or unit commander (Inport). Substitute for the first flag in this hoist.
Second substitute Second sub Absence of chief of staff (Inport). Substitute for the second flag in this hoist.
Third substitute Third sub Absence of commanding officer (Inport). Substitute for the third flag in this hoist.
One WUN Numeral one. None.
Two TOO Numeral two. None.
Three TREE Numeral three. None.
Four FOW-er Numeral four. None.
Five FIFE Numeral five. None.
Six SICKS Numeral six. None.
Seven SEV-en Numeral seven. None.
Eight AIT Numeral eight. None.
Nine NIN-er Numeral nine. None.
Zero ZEE-roh Numeral zero. None.
Pennant one PEN-ant WUN Pennant one. Numeral one.
Pennant two PEN-ant TOO Pennant two. Numeral two.
Pennant three PEN-ant TREE Pennant three. Numeral three.
Pennant four PEN-ant FOW-er Pennant four. Numeral four.
Pennant five PEN-ant FIFE Pennant five. Numeral five.
Pennant six PEN-ant SICKS Pennant six. Numeral six.
Pennant seven PEN-ant SEV-en Pennant eight. Numeral seven.
Pennant eight PEN-ant AIT Pennant eight. Numeral eight
Pennant Nine PEN-ant NIN-er Pennant nine. Numeral nine
Pennant zero PEN-ant ZEE-roh Pennant zero. Numeral zero

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