Signal Flags – B (Bravo) and C (Charlie)

B – BRAVO: The signal flag BRAVO is a solid red swallowtail flag. BRAVO and the signal flag ALPHA are the only two swallowtail design signal flags. Take a look at our previous post to view ALPHA (link). BRAVO, when flown by itself, indicates one of two things. Either the boat is taking on or discharging dangerous cargo or it is carrying dangerous cargo. If it is discharging or taking on dangerous material, additional information will be relayed to concerned parties.  If this flag is seen, it is best to steer clear of the ship. This flag is most commonly seen flying for commercial purposes on boats such as oil tankers. The flag was originally designed to be flown by the Royal Navy when they were transporting explosive weaponry. 

C – CHARLIE: The signal flag CHARLIE flown by itself means affirmative. It is a responsive flag when in communication with other vessels.

Together: When the two flags are used together, CHARLIE is flown above BRAVO to indicate that a vessel requires immediate assistance. This can be for a multitude of reasons, including the need to be saved, the need for a tow,  to indicate that someone on board is injured, or similar problems. If you see this pair of flags, the vessel and its crew are under some sort of duress.

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