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History Of Nautical Flags

Xiamen Novelty Flag Co.,Ltd | Updated: Nov 20, 2016

History of Nautical Flags

Nautical flags are used by ships and vessels to communicate with one another. Due to the need for a faster form of communicating with the other vessel during those times when there is yet no sophisticated communication system, an international code of flag signals was developed and used. 

The first naval signal was attributed to the Ancient Greeks where their commander conveyed a crucial order to the other vessel by waving his cloak and throwing it overboard. The faster dissemination of orders between the two vessels led them to victory over their enemies. Maritime signals were also used during expeditions. In the sixteenth century, the Duke of York commissioned the volume sailing and flighting instructions to aid the fleet of ships during the final period of the Dutch Wars. The instructions included a more complex set of flag and message combination which began the 300 years of evolution of maritime signaling. 

The current nautical flag system was established after the World War 1 and has been adapted for use by numerous countries and navies, including the specialized code combination of NATO. Thus, a set of flags of different colors, shapes or markings was developed. 

Each flag has a corresponding letter used singly or in combination to form an alphabetic message. There are also individual flags which have a specific or standard meaning. Although the use of signal boat flags is not as active nowadays due to the invention of modern communication systems, these nautical flags are still popular among boat or ship owners for aesthetic purposes.