Nautical Flags

Nautical flags are used internationally to signal between two ships or between ship and shore. Sailors and boaters should learn about these flags and their meanings which help communicate with other ships even when they speak a different language to you.

Below is an alphabetical and numerical list of all the International Code of Signals Flags (ICS or INTERCO). Each letter of the alphabet has a different message associated. Flags can also spell out words individually. The Morse code and NATO phonetic alphabet equivalent is also included. For more detailed information see our guide book: Nautical Flag Alphabet

FlagName / Phonetic AlphabetMeaning
A AlphaA
Alpha


Morse: .

“I have a diver down; keep well clear at slow speed.”
B BravoB
Bravo


Morse: . . .
“I am taking in or discharging or carrying dangerous goods.”
C CharlieC
Charlie


Morse:
. .
“Affirmative” or “Yes”
D DeltaD
Delta


Morse:
. .
“Keep clear of me; I am maneuvering with difficulty.”
E EchoE
Echo


Morse: .
“I am altering my course to starboard.”
F FoxtrotF
Foxtrot


Morse: . .
.
“I am disabled; communicate with me.”
G GolfG
Golf


Morse:
– – .
“I require a pilot.”
or by fishing vessels near fishing grounds: “I am hauling nets.”
H HotelH
Hotel


Morse: . . . .
“I have a pilot on board.”
I IndiaI
India


Morse: . .
“I am altering my course to port.”
J JulietteJ
Juliette


Morse: .
– – –
“I am on fire and have dangerous cargo on board: keep well clear of me.”
or “I am leaking dangerous cargo.”
K KiloK
Kilo


Morse:
.
“I wish to communicate with you.”
L LimaL
Lima


Morse: .
. .
“You should stop your vessel instantly.”
M MikeM
Mike

Morse:
– –
“My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water.”
N NovemberN
November


Morse:.
“Negative.” or “No”
O OscarO
Oscar


Morse: – – –
“Man overboard.”
(often attached to the man overboard pole on boats).
P PapaP
Papa


Morse: . – – .
The Blue Peter.
In harbour: All persons should report on board as the vessel is about to proceed to sea.
At sea: “My nets have come fast upon an obstruction.”
Q QuebecQ
Quebec


Morse: – – .
“My vessel is ‘healthy’ and I request free pratique.”
(Clearance that ship is free from infectious disease)
R RomeoR
Romeo


Morse: ..
No international meaning.
Prior to 1969: “The way is off my ship; you may feel your way past me.”
S SierraS
Sierra


Morse: . . .
“I am operating astern propulsion.”
T TangoT
Tango


Morse:
“Keep clear of me.” Fishing boats: “Keep clear of me; I am engaged in pair trawling.”
U UniformU
Uniform


Morse: . .
“You are running into danger.”
V VictorV
Victor


Morse: . . .
“I require assistance.”
W WhiskeyW
Whiskey


Morse: . – –
“I require medical assistance.”
X RayX
X-Ray


Morse:. .
“Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals.”
Y YankeeY
Yankee


Morse:. – –
“I am dragging my anchor.”
Z ZuluZ
Zulu


Morse: – – . .
“I require a tug.”
When made by fishing vessels close to fishing grounds:
“I am shooting nets.”
0 Zero0
Zero


Morse: – – – – –
Numeral zero
1 One1
One


Morse: . – – – –
Numeral one
2 Two2
Two


Morse: . . – – –
Numeral two
3 Three3
Three


Morse: . . . – –
Numeral three
4 Four4
Four


Morse: . . . .
Numeral four
5 Five5
Five


Morse: . . . . .
Numeral five
6 Six6
Six


Morse: . . . .
Numeral six
7 Seven7
Seven


Morse: – – . . .
Numeral seven
8 Eight8
Eight


Morse: – – – . .
Numeral eight
9 Nine9
Nine


Morse: – – – – .
Numeral nine
Code Answer FlagCode Answer
“Message is understood.”
Also, numeric decimal point.
1st Substitute Nautical FlagFirst SubstituteSubstitute for the 1st flag in this hoist
2nd Substitute Nautical FlagSecond SubstituteSubstitute for the 2nd flag in this hoist
3rd Substitute Nautical FlagThird SubstituteSubstitute for the 3rd flag in this hoist