The FIRST SUBSTITUTE has repeated the first flag in
CHARLIE has horizontal stripes--a berthing
compartment has tiers of horizontal bunks. Anything
the hoist, and the SECOND SUBSTITUTE has
watertight is completely enclosed--the blue square of
repeated the second flag in the hoist.
WHISKEY completely encloses the white square,
Substitutes are not used to repeat other substitutes,
which completely encloses the red square. That leaves
but they can repeat the flag that a substitute represents.
TANGO, the flag with the vertical stripes. You could
The tackline is not repeated. Therefore, when you count
also remember TANGO as being similar to the flag of
to determine which flag the substitute represents, do not
France (the stripes are in reverse order). You can make
include the tackline in the count.
up any number of such things to jog your memory. They
Substitutes are also used as absentee pennants when
do not have to be logical. Often, the more exaggerated
a ship is not under way. They are flown from sunrise to
or silly they are, the easier they are to remember. Here's
sunset on the yardarms of the mainmast and indicate the
an example: "Gee, what a lot of stripes," for GOLF.
absence of embarked officers and officials for less than
The numbered flags are easy. From 1 through 9, the
basic colors, red, yellow, and blue, are repeated in that
The FIRST SUBSTITUTE flown outboard at the
order. The firrst three have horizontal stripes, the next
starboard yardarm indicates the absence of the flag
three have diagonal stripes, and 7, 8, and 9 have vertical
officer or unit commander whose flag or pennant is
stripes. Take one good look at zero. You are not apt to
flying on the ship.
The SECOND SUBSTITUTE is the chief of staff's
Numeral flags are used along with alphabet flags
absentee pennant and is flown inboard at the port
and special pennants in flag signals, but numeral
yardarm. When displayed with the THIRD
pennants are used only in call signs. The special flags
SUBSTITUTE, it must be inboard.
and pennants are used in tactical maneuvers to direct
changes in position, speed, formation, and course; to
The THIRD SUBSTITUTE is the captain's
indicate units; and to designate specific units.
absentee pennant. It is flown outboard from the port
yardarm. If the captain is absent over 72 hours, this
pennant indicates the absence of the executive officer.
Substitutes are used to prevent alphabet flags,
The FOURTH SUBSTITUTE indicates the
absence of the civil or military official whose flag is
numeral flags, or numeral pennants from appearing
flying on the ship. It flies from the inboard starboard
more than once in the same hoist. They are what their
name implies--substitutes for other flags or pennants
yardarm. When displayed with the first substitute, it
already used in the hoist.
must be inboard.
FIRST SUBSTITUTE repeats the first flag or
pennant in the hoist.
SECOND SUBSTITUTE repeats the second
In the absence of a commanding officer
flag or pennant in the hoist.
who is acting as a temporary unit commander,
THIRD SUBSTITUTE repeats the third flag or
both absentee pennants are displayed.
pennant in the hoist.
FOURTH SUBSTITUTE repeats the fourth flag
or pennant in the hoist.
Many one-flag signals are used in the Navy. Small
vessels, which do not maintain a constant signal watch
If you wanted to send the signal CHARLIE
while in port, frequently rely on the Petty Officer of the
BRAVO BRAVO CHARLIE, it would read from the top
Watch to recognize some of these signals or to rouse out
a QM or SM when needed. Of course, INDIA flying at
the dip on an approaching vessel requires breaking out
deckhands, not a Signalman, because INDIA shows that
the ship is coming alongside. Every sailor should know
at least the few signals listed here. (Except where noted,
these signals are flown where best seen.)