International Code Signal Flags & Flag Sets for Nautical Use

Nautical Code Signal Flags

Gettysburg Flag Works offers code signal flags for sale in several sizes, from size “0” to “14," that can be purchased individually or in complete sets. A complete code signal flag set includes 26 letters, ten numbers from 0 to 9, and 4 substitute flags.

About Code Signal Flags

Code signal flags have gone through many variations over the centuries and have be used by a variety of organizations to communicate from sender to receiver. There were many forms of code signal flags. One of the unique features of the code signal flags is the spoken code word for each letter; examples are Echo for “E” and Romeo for “R”.

A Brief History of International Signal Flags for Boating

The modern code signal flags began in 1855 by the British Board of Trade. It was published after two years in 1857 as the Commercial Code. It has been modified several times as improvement proved necessary. After 1969, the International Signal Code was simplified to so that the same codes could be used around the world. There are now one, two, and three letter signals, each with a specific meaning. Single letter codes are usually urgent, or common. Two letter codes are used to another set of messages. Three letter sets are used for medical signals.

The current code signal flags are available in English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish, Norwegian, Russian and Greek.

Boat Signal Flags, Marine Signal Flags, and Medical Signal Flags

Code signal flags are sometimes referred to as boat signal flags, marine signal flags, and medical signal flags. As noted above, they may also be called international signal flags or nautical code signal flags.

References to boat signal flags occur mostly among recreational boaters. Weekend boaters will fly a few letters spelling out the their vessel name. Boat signal flags may also refer to a set of marine flags used by recreational boaters with can cross over into fishing flags or fun customized boat flags. One of the most popular boat signal flags is a flag emphasizing relaxation and socialization, such as a flag with a beer mug or martini glass emblem.

When referring to boat signal flags, you may also hear the the hurricane warning flag mentioned. While not one of the letters or numerals in the code signal flags found in the International Signal Code, the hurricane warning flag is widely used and can be purchased separately. The hurricane warning flag is not required in the minimum required safety equipment, but is good flag to have in the tropics.

Code signal flags are also used in the medical field in marine environments. They are used to message medical requirements, urgent medical needs, and even medications. The medical signal code is found in Chapter 3 of the International Code of Signals.

Code Signal Flag Sets

If you're looking to be fully equipped for using the International Signal Code, your best bet is to purchase a complete code signal flag set. This set contains includes 26 letters, ten numbers from 0 to 9, and 4 substitute flags, and will equip you with everything you need to use nautical code signs to communicate with other boaters.

Individual Code Signal Flags & Pennants

If you have a specific message you'd like to communicate and you don't have a need for a full set of code signal flags, individual code signal flag and pennants are a great option. You can browse our available individual code signal flags and pennants here.

Have Questions About Code Signal Flags for Boating?

If you have any questions, please feel free to send us a message or give us a call at 1-888-697-3524. We'd be more than happy to help you find the product you're looking for, or point you in the right direction as you decide which nautical flags are right for you.

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