Meanings of International Maritime Signal Flags A - Diver below when stationary ; I am undergoing a speed trial B - I am taking on or discharging explosives C - affirmative D - keep clear of me, I am manoevering with difficulty E - I am altering my course to starboard F - I am disabled, communicate with me G - I require a pilot H - I have a pilot on board I - I am altering my course to port J - I am going to send a message by semaphore K - you should stop your vessel instantly L - you should stop, I have something important to communicate M - I have a doctor on board N - no negative O - man overboard P - the Blue Peter - all aboard, vessel is about to proceed sea. At sea your lights are out or burning badly Q - my vessel is healthy and I request free practique R - the way is off my ship. You may feel you way past me S - my engines are going full speed astern T - do not pass ahead of me U - you are standing into danger V - I require assistance not distress W - I require medical assistance X - stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals Y - I am carrying mails Z - to be used to address or call shore stations Answering Pennant.
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I request urgent medical advice. The pennant at the bottom indicates a repeat of the second letter. The Medical Signal Code  incorporated in the International Code of Signals since is a means of providing assistance when medical personnel are not present. Plain language is generally preferred in such cases presumably via radiotelephone , but the various codes provide a succinct method of communicating to a doctor the nature of the problem where there are language or communication difficulties, and in return the recommended treatment.
Even where there are no language problems, the Medical Signal Code is useful in providing a standard method of case description and treatment. There is also a standard list of medicaments medicines , keyed to a standard ships medicine chest carried by all merchant ships. The Medical signals all begin with the letter "M" Mike followed by two more letters, and sometimes with additional numerals or letters.
It came in two parts: the first containing universal and international signals, and the second British signals only. Eighteen separate signal flags see chart were used to make over 70, possible messages. Vowels were omitted from the set to avoid spelling out any word that might be objectionable in any language, and some little-used letters were also omitted.
It was revised by the Board of Trade in , and was modified at the International Conference of in Washington, D. At first it was used concurrently with the old system, and then used exclusively after 1 January In this new edition, the number of flags was increased from 18 flags plus a code pennant to 26 flags and a code pennant. Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot and Golf were pennants corresponding to more modern numeral pennants 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Otherwise the letters appear to correspond to the more modern formats. The International Radiotelegraph Conference at Washington in considered proposals for a new revision of the Code, including preparation in seven languages: English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Norwegian.
This new edition was completed in and was adopted by the International Radiotelegraph Conference held in Madrid in The Madrid Conference also set up a standing committee for continual revision of the code.
A certain number of signals were also inserted for communications between vessels and shipowners, agents, repair yards, and other maritime stakeholders. The new international code of signals was officially brought into force worldwide on 1 January Thirteen new flags were introduced, whereby the triangular pennants used for letters, C, D, E, F, and G were replaced with new square flags, and became the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
The numerals 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0 were introduced by five new flags, and there were three new substitute flags added. The revisions were prepared in the previous seven languages plus Russian and Greek. Changes included a shift in focus from general communications to safety of navigation, abandonment of the "vocabulary" method of spelling out messages word by word, adaptation to all forms of communication, and elimination of the separate radiotelegraph and geographical sections.
It was adopted in The International Code of Signals is currently maintained by the International Maritime Organization , which published a new print edition in
International maritime signal flags
Two sailing ships dressed overall with their signal flags Tender Donau A 69 in German with signal flags hoisted. Starboard halyard: F-H-G. Port halyard: International maritime signal flags are various flags used to communicate with ships. The principal system of flags and associated codes is the International Code of Signals. Individual flags have specific and standard meanings;  for example, diving support vessels raise the "A" flag indicating their inability to move from their current location because they have a diver underwater and to warn other vessels to keep clear to avoid endangering the diver s with their propellers.
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