On many small ships, it is the responsibility of the
quarterdeck watch to hoist and haul down the absentee
pennants. They are flown only between sunrise and
Whenever the ship is taking aboard, transferring,
or handling dangerous commodities, such as
ammunition and fuel, the BRAVO flag is hoisted and
the smoking lamp is put out. BRAVO is hauled down
when the dangerous condition no longer exists. The
BRAVO flag (fig. 4-26) is a general signal flag.
While standing watch, you will have many duties.
One of them is to make sure special flags or pennants
are displayed as required to indicate changing events
aboard ship. Usually on a large ship, this is the
responsibility of the duty signalman. On small ships,
such as submarines, it is the duty of the topside watch
(POOW). These flags or pennants are important
because they tell other units what is happening within
their area at any given time. A list of special flags and
pennants is normally posted within the quarterdeck
area for the ready reference of watch standers.
There are many more flags and pennants that
have special meanings. You will have to know the
meaning of some of these. They are called general
signals, and those not previously discussed are
shown in figure 4-27.
When flag officers of the Navy (admiral, vice
admiral, rear admiral [upper half], rear admiral [lower
half]) assume command of a fleet or a unit of a fleet,
their personal flag (fig. 4-28) is hoisted and kept flying
until they turn over their command to their successor.
If the officer is absent from command for a period
exceeding 72 hours, the flag is hauled down until the
A flag officers flag is never displayed
simultaneously from more than one ship. It is flown at
the main-truck of the ship the officer is aboard.
Normally, no personal flag or pennant is shown at the
same masthead with the national ensign. When a double
display is required, the personal flag or pennant should
Figure 4-26.Bravo flag.
DIVERS ARE DOWN
AT BOW OF SMALL BOAT:
GUARD MAIL BOAT
MILITARY GUARD DUTY
Figure 4-27.General signals.
Figure 4-28.Personal flags.