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Maritime Signal Flags

These flags are used at sea for communication between ships. They can spell out short messages, and individual flags and various combinations of flags also have special meanings. On ceremonial and festive occasions the signal flags are used to 'dress' (decorate) ships.

This signalling system was drafted in 1855 and published in 1857, and was gradually adopted by most seafaring countries. It was revised in 1932.


International Maritime Signal Flags

Special meanings of individual flags

Sample text

England excepts that every man will do his duty


England expects that every man will do his duty.
- this was the signal sent by Admiral Horatio Nelson on 21 October 1805 from his flagship HMS Victory just before the Battle of Trafalgar began.



Further details of Martime Signal Flags

International Signal Flags Translator (Maritime Signal Flags & Semaphore Flags)

Other signal flag systems

Signalling at sea

Language-based communication systems

Maritime Signal Flags, Morse code, Semaphore