Even with Technology- No replacement yet for Signal Flags

I ran across an interesting article that demonstrates that signal flags are still used today.  It is refreshing to see that although we have state of the art equipment in the world today there is still a need for signal flags, semaphore and flash lights.  They are still used on warships for communication when silence is necessary.

A couple of days ago the Navy held an exercise in the Arabian Sea. They needed to keep strict electronic silence. and did not want to give away the warships position in the sea. Here’s a small exerpt from the article:  “The signal flags hoisted on a ship’s main mast can be seen by only those ships which are in its visual contact. Long range aircraft, weapons and sensors ensure that only friends can be within the horizon.”

jpg-letterkandtextOne could see different flags or their combinations being hoisted or lowered to communicate. These could be in accordance with internationally accepted codes or the Navy’s own codes.


All  pictures are our signal flags. On a ship they are hung with the casing to the left. Our flags hang downward.

jpg-fflagwithtextBut when the messages are long and urgent, a chief petty officer stands on the deck with a brightly coloured small flag in each hand. His hands take different positions and each one indicates a letter or code. This is called semaphore.

In case of poor visibility or horizon distance, a signal lamp or small flashing search light is used. It has a quick opening and closing shutter to produce long and short flashes indicating dashes and dots of the Morse Code. One needs a trained eye to decipher a combination of long and short flashes.

jpg-letterrtxtIn conclusion “Days are not far when we would be using satellite telephone linked laptop computers to transmit data and communicate in real time. In fact, it has begun in the navies of the world but I don’t think that would replace these beautiful flags,” said a naval communication specialist. He is right. During the International Fleet Review held in Mumbai last year, the warships of even advanced countries were seen flying signal flags to communicate various things. The same flags are used to decorate the ships for ceremonies. They hang along a line hoisted from stem to stern. Such a ship is called “dressed overall” as seen below.

To see more of our flags visit us at IB Designs, USA


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