International code and signal flags: full set – Red Dragon Flagmakers
Choose one of the options as the finish to your flag. Canvas header, cored rope and ash wood toggle are supplied as standard. We only supply durable UK manufactured CORED polypropelene white rope (measuring between 40mm and 70mm proportionate to the dimensions of the flag overall). Metal eyelets tend to weaken the canvas so instead we stitch buttonhole eyelets to the top and bottom of the canvas left facing. If you require a flag finish not listed, please email us on enquiries@reddragonflagmakers.co.uk and we'll do our best to accommodate you.
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International code of signals

The purpose of the International Code of Signals is to provide ways and means of communication in situations related essentially to safety of navigation and persons, especially when language difficulties arise."[1] It has done this by first establishing a standardized alphabet (the letters A to Z and the ten digits), along with a spoken form of each letter (to avoid confusing similar-sounding letters, such as 'b', 'p', and 'v'), and associating this alphabet with standardized flags. 

Combinations of these alphanumeric characters are assigned as codes for various standardized messages. For instance, the master of a ship may wish to communicate with another ship, where their own radio may not be working or the other ship's call sign is not known or the other ship may not be maintaining a radio watch. One simply raises the Kilo flag (see diagram at the top), or sends the Morse Code equivalent (dash-dot-dash) by flashing light; this has the assigned message of "I wish to communicate with you."

One practical application of the ICS is that all of the standardized messages come in nine languages (English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish, Norwegian, and, since 1969, Russian and Greek). This fact is immaterial if the sender and receiver(s) are using different languages; each language has a book with equivalent messages keyed to the same code. This is also useful in radiotelephony, or even when ships are within hailing distance, if there is no common language: a crew member on a burning ship yells "yuliett alfa vour", and a vessel coming to their aid knows exactly what they need — "material for foam fire extinguishers" (that is, the foaming agent). (See de:Flaggenalphabet for the German version of single-letter signals.)

The code also covers procedural aspects (how to initiate a call, the format of a message, how to format date and time, etc.), how naval ships (which usually use their own codes) indicate that they are using the ICS (by flying the code pennant), use in radiotelephony (use of the spoken word "Interco"), and various other matters (such as how an aircraft directs a vessel to another vessel in distress and how to order unidentified submarines to surface).

Signals

Prior to 1969, the code was much more extensive, covering a wider range of messages and including a list of five-letter codes for every prominent maritime location in the world. Since 1969, it has been reduced to focus on navigation and safety, including a medical section. Signals can be sorted into three groups:
  • Single-letter signals which are very urgent, important, or common.
  • Two-letter signals for other messages, sometimes followed with a numerical "complement" which supplements or modifies the message.
  • Three-letter signals beginning with "M"; these are the Medical Signal Codes.

In some cases, additional characters are added to indicate quantities, bearing, course, distance, date, time, latitude, or longitude. There is also provision for spelling words and for indicating use of other codes. Several of the more common single-letter signals are shown at the right. Two-letter signals cover a broad gamut of situations.

Repeated characters can be a problem in flaghoist. To avoid having to carry multiple sets of signal flags, the Code uses three "substitute" (or "repeater") flags. These repeat the flag at the indicated position. For instance, to signal MAA ("I request urgent medical advice" the Mike, Alfa, and 2nd substitute flags would be flown, the substitute indicating a repeat of the second character.

There are 40 (forty) flag units in a set.
Signal flags , code flags, and their meanings Red Dragon Flagmakers
Signal flags , code flags, and their meanings Red Dragon Flagmakers
We make everything to order but there are standard sizes which you might like to follow - these are available with finish options to suit as shown:
 Size 0 2 3 7 10 14
Flags 12x15" 18x24" 24x24" 36x36" 48x48" 48x72"
Pennants 8x24" 16x36" 16x36" 24x54" 32x72" 32x108"
Substitutes 8x16" 12x24" 16x28" 24x48" 32x64" 32x64"
Canvas sleeve (open ends)
Canvas rope and toggle

First class flags - guaranteed

All our flags are guaranteed 100% made in the UK. Our main workshop is in South Wales (UK) and as the only social enterprise flag maker in the world, we supply flags of every size, description and design to all markets and clients worldwide - no order too small - and we invest all our profits into the rehabilitation, training and employment of people in our local communities.

No obligation quotes

Buying flags from Red Dragon Flagmakers gives extra social value to your spending power and the design and manufacture of custom flags is our speciality (and all quotes are supplied with no obligation). 

Printed or traditional sewn flags - its your call

Quality printed flags are available to buy through this website page per size but if you would prefer a traditional sewn and stitched flag and you can't see the size you require on this page listing, please email us on enquiries@reddragonflagmakers.co.uk with the size you'd like and we'll send you a quote for review.

Made for you and supplied to you

Each flag is finished and supplied with a strong canvas, rope and toggle, triple sewn fly end and supplied with a complimentary shower proof drawstring flag bag for safe keeping.

Fully traditional sewn, part sewn part printed or fully printed

Where flags are fully SEWN with detail, applique is sewn through a layer giving a sewn mirror image on reverse. We use Ministry of Defence spec woven polyester which replaced the traditional wool and linen/cotton mix fibre fabric in and around the 1980s.  The fabric has a matt finish and a strength and durability which lasts longer than the previous natural fibre fabrics. 

Where flags are part-SEWN part-PRINTED, a sewn woven polyester base is stitched and hemmed and the detail (badge, emblem etc.) is printed twice and sewn to each side of the flag around the detail.  Where flags are fully PRINTED, the format is single layer, printed through with mirror image on reverse. 

All our quality printed flags are made using durable knit polyester fabric and PLEASE NOTE this is NOT to same as what other retailers describe as 'economy' flag fabric (roughly translating to cheap and nasty and not likely to last more than a few days) .

What does it all mean?

Please refer to our GLOSSARY  page to clarify any terms you are unsure of. Use the search button at the top left of the website to search all other info throughout the site.  Check out our fascinating BLOG for a history lesson or three and please get in touch if you need something you havent been able to find.

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