Easy OnLine Ordering
Home: Graphic Decals: US Military: Nautical Signal Flags: Interpretation of Signal Flags
Custom Graphic Decals

Back to Signal Flags
Interpretation of 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.

Name Navy Meaning International Meaning
Alpha I have a diver down; keep well clear at slow speed.
Bravo I am taking in, discharging, or carrying dangerous cargo.
Charlie "Yes" or "affirmative".
Delta I am maneuvering with difficulty; keep clear.
Echo I am directing my course to starboard.
Foxtrot I am disabled; communicate with me.
On aircraft carriers: Flight Operations underway
Golf I require a pilot.
Hotel I have a pilot on board.
India Coming alongside. I am directing my course to port.
Juliet I am on fire and have dangerous cargo; keep clear.
Kilo I wish to communicate with you.
Lima You should stop your vessel immediately.
Mike My vessel is stopped; making no way.
November No or negative.
Oscar Man overboard.
Papa All personnel return to ship; proceeding to sea (Inport).
Quebec Boat recall; all boats return to ship. Ship meets health regs; request clearance into port.
Romeo Preparing to replenish (At sea). Ready duty ship (Inport). None.
Sierra Conducting flag hoist drill. Moving astern.
Tango Do not pass ahead of me. Keep clear; engaged in trawling.
Uniform You are running into danger.
Victor I require assistance.
Whiskey I require medical assistance.
Xray Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals.
Yankee Ship has visual communications duty. I am dragging anchor.
Zulu I require a tug.
Code/Answer Flag that follows is from the International Code of Signals. Message is understood. Also, numeric decimal point.
First substitute Absence of flag officer or unit commander (Inport). Substitute for the first flag in this hoist.
Second substitute Absence of chief of staff (Inport). Substitute for the second flag in this hoist.
Third substitute Absence of commanding officer (Inport). Substitute for the third flag in this hoist.
Fourth substitute Absence of civil or military official whose flag is flying on this ship. Substitute for the fourth flag in this hoist.
Pennant one Pennant one. 1
Pennant two Pennant two. 2
Pennant three Pennant three. 3
Pennant four Pennant four. 4
Pennant five Pennant five. 5
Pennant six Pennant six. 6
Pennant seven Pennant seven. 7
Pennant eight Pennant eight. 8
Pennant Nine Pennant nine. 9
Pennant zero Pennant zero. 0
Naval Squadron Numbers
Numeral one. None.
Numeral two. None.
Numeral three. None.
Numeral four. None.
Numeral five. None.
Numeral six. None.
Numeral seven. None.
Numeral eight. None.
Numeral nine. None.
Numeral zero. None.

Source: U.S. Navy.
Authors: CDR Eric Lum; Alan Goldstein, ACI, Technology Integration, Navy Office of Information.
Created: 25 April 1997 Revised 9 June 2001

Back to Signal Flags

Page Design and Content © 2011 Decalzone, All Rights Reserved