Prior to the 18th century, flags and lights were used to signal other vessels. During the 18th century, flags began to be combined in pairs to convey particular meanings. The beginning of the 19th century marked an improvement in the methods of conveying meaning with flags, especially in 1856, where the British government adopted a system of signaling through flags which could be utilized by all maritime nations. This is the beginning of the International Signal Code which consisted of 18 flags and code pennants. Since January 1903, the International Signal Code consists of 26 flags and code pennants. It is important for vessels to carry the international code of signals and a set of flags as it can be advantageous in terms of communication and safety among individuals utilizing the Great Lakes. Moreover, crews of lake life-saving stations use these signals to help distressed vessels.
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