Code Flags

International code flags with their meanings and phonetic names.

A – Alpha

I have a diver down; keep well clear at slow speed.

B – Bravo

I am taking in, or discharging, or carrying dangerous goods.


C – Charlie

Yes (affirmative).


D – Delta

Keep clear of me; I am maneuvering with difficulty.


E – Echo

I am altering my course to starboard.


F – Foxtrot

I am disabled; communicate with me.


G – Golf

I require a pilot. When made by fishing vessels in close proximity on the fishing grounds it means: “I am hauling nets.”


H – Hotel

I have a pilot on board.


I – India

I am altering my course to port.


J – Juliette

I am on fire and have dangerous cargo on board, stay 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 (negative).


O – Oscar

Man overboard.


P – Papa

In harbor,—all persons should report on board as the vessel is about to proceed to sea. At sea,—May be used by fishermen to mean: “My nets have come fast on an obstruction.” It may also be used as a sound to mean: “I require a pilot.”


Q – Quebec

My vessel is healthy and I request free practique (clearance).


R – Romeo



S – Sierra

I am operating astern propulsion.


T – Tango

Keep clear of me; I am engaged in pair trawling.


U – Uniform

You are running into danger.


V – Victor

I require assistance.


W – Whiskey

I require medical assistance.


X – Xray

Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals.


Y – Yankee

I am dragging my anchor.


Z – Zulu

I require a tug.


Two Flag Signals

AC – I am abandoning my vessel.

LO – I am not in my correct position; used by a light vessel.

RU – Keep clear of me; I am maneuvering with difficulty.

AN – I need a doctor.

NC – I am in distress and require immediate assistance.

SO – You should stop your vessel instantly.

BR – I require a helicopter.

PD – Your navigation lights are not visible.

UM – The harbor is closed to traffic.

CD – I require assistance in the nature of …

PP – Keep well clear of me.

UP – Permission to enter harbor is urgently requested. I have an emergency.

DV – I am drifting.

QD – I am going ahead.

YU – I am going to communicate with your station by means of the International Code of Signals.

EF – SOS/MAYDAY has been canceled.

QT – You should not anchor. You are going to foul my anchor.


FA – Will you give me my position?

QQ – I require health clearance.


GW – Man overboard. Please take action to pick him up.

QU – Anchoring is prohibited.

ZL – Your signal has been received but not understood.

JL – You are running the risk of going aground.

QX – I request permission to anchor.


N + C – November Charlie

I am in distress.

Three Flag Signals

ZD1 – Please report me to the Coast Guard, New York

ZD2 – Please report me to Lloyds, London.

One pennant means a small craft warning with winds to up to 38 mph.
Two pennants is a gale warning with winds from 39 to 54 mph.

One flag means storm or whole gale warning, with winds from 55 to 73 mph.
Two flags indicate a hurricane warning with winds 74 mph. and higher.