International Code of Signals

Merchant marine code signaling system. Signal flags: Blue Peter

It was an immediate success and over the next few years was widely adopted by shipping firms and maritime authorities of all nations. Like the Royal Navy system in use at the time, Marryat's commercial code was based on numbered flags combined with distinguishing flags and pendants that when hoisted in various combinations identified a ship or a port, or referred to messages in the code book. Any ship listed in the code book could identify herself option provider "making her number" via a flag hoist. For example, a hoist consisting of flags 1, 7, 2 and 5 under the first distinguishing pendant identified the British merchantman Challenger. Numerical flags hoisted in conjunction with the rendezvous flag identified ports, lighthouses, etc.

International Code of Signals and merchant marine code signaling system application in the maritime industry April 11, April 11, These are not just some random flags, squares, dots and dashes. What are International Code of Signals and why is it merchant marine code signaling system From the time that languages came into being, till date there is no ONE common language around the world that is understood by all.

Every country, region has its own language which brings along with it communication barriers. Different nationalities obviously means different languages and there could be these language barriers when communicating between ships. Most of these countries are Non-Native English speaking countries so one can imagine the gap in communication between ships.

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The International Code of Signals achieved this by firstly creating a standardised alphabet and number scheme through the use of flags and phonetics. These standardised set of signals are communicated using a variety of methods such as Flag Semaphore, Flag Hoist, Radio Telegraphy and Radio Telephony.

Early developments[ edit ] In the early days of sail, the use of signals to communicate between ships was primitive, as seen by one admiral's instructions to his fleet in "Whensoever, and at all tymes the Admyrall doth shote of a pece of Ordnance, and set up his Banner of Council on Starrborde bottocke of his Shippe, everie shipps capten shall with spede go aborde the Admyrall to know his will. Modern naval code signalling began with the invention of maritime signal flags in the midth century by the then-Duke of York subsequently James II [2] who was created Lord High Admiral after the Restoration. A ship's message had to be approved by the officer of the watchand his system was augmented and changed in various ways over the following century. InAdmiral Lord Howe issued a new signal book for a numerary system, using numeral flags to signal a number; the number indicated the message, not the mast from which the flags flew.

Semaphore The Semaphore signaling system is a system based on the positioning of a pair of hand-held flags in a particular pre-set pattern. One flag is held in each hand in various positions representing each of the letters of the alphabet. The pattern is divided into eight positions: up, down, out, high, low, for each of the left and right hands.

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The flag used is usually a red and yellow square divided diagonally. The alphabets are represented as below. If you look closely, the semaphore flag signals follow a circular path with the first circle consisting of letters A to C made with the right arm, and E to G with the left arm.

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D is shown using either hand. In the second circle, the right arm is stationary at the position of letter A and the left arm makes the movements. Similarly in the remaining circles works out to about 7 circles in totalthe right arm is stationary while the left arm moves. The arms are kept straight when changing from one position to another.

Flag Hoist These symbols and signals are most useful in cases where there are nearby ships but there tell me sites where you can really make money a communication failure.

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Say for example you are on board a ship but your communication equipment is faulty and you have engine problems that makes maneuvering difficult. All seafarers go through training in the International Code of Signals and irrespective of language used or the language that they have been taught in, the flags mean the same and all seafarers are able to decipher what is being communicated.

Radiotelegraphy Radiotelegraphy is another means of communication between ships. Radiotelegraphy uses radio communication by means of Morse Code or other coded signals.

Now what is Morse code you may ask. Morse code was transmitted as electrical pulses, mechanical or visual signs using a series of tones, clicks or flashing lights.

  • Marryat's Commercial Code - signals
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  • International Code of Signals - Wikipedia
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If you were skilled in the art of Morse code you could hear or see the code and decipher the message without any equipment. Each Morse code symbol represented a letter, number or punctuation character and character was represented by a unique sequence of dots and dashes.

Signal Letters There are more than one reason why Bob Scott's query was not answered in the first place. As shall be seen, it will first be necessary to make a rough estimate of the date of the picture and often also to determine the nationality of the ship to be able to correctly decode the signal flags.

The duration of the dot was the basic unit for the measurement of time in the transmission of morse code. A dash take three times the duration of a dot to transmit. Letters in a word had space equal to three dots whereas words were separated by space equal to seven dots. Even now in some cases where there are emergencies, the standard emergency signal SOS is transmitted using Morse code. SOS is represented by three dots, three dashes and three dots like.

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Below is the International Morse Code list. Here is a video of the English Alphabets expressed in Morse Code. Radiotelegraphy uses a narrow frequency bandwidth and this allows for communicating without any interference or noise like with radio telephony which involves speech over radio.

Image from Wikipedia Because of this advantage and also the fact that morse code also maybe transmitted using flashing lights like the Aldis Lamp shown in the image, radiotelegraphy is used in certain types of marine ship-to-shore communication such as emergency callsfor weather and sea state bulletins by national maritime services, for point-to-point communication between fixed points, and for various special services that do not require high-speed transmission of information.

Some of the old timers or even some of the current mariners may have some interesting stories to share.

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