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Pilots flag: United Kingdom

Last modified: 2003-03-14 by rob raeside
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Pilot's flag

The following quote is from a "Mariners Mirror" article on British 19th century pilotage. The context is a description of the pilot's routine when boarding a ship to be piloted:

"Having reached the vessel's bridge, he had to raise a specific flag (measuring 1.80 by 1.20m, with two red and white stripes, either horizontal, for a first class pilot, or vertical, for a second class pilot) to indicate his presence on board the ship. This signal was meant to prevent any attempt to board by another pilot's cutter. Any infringement to that rule was severely punished, the infringing pilot having to refund the expenses of his colleague and being suspended for two days."

Source: Maritime Pilotage Acts of the Nineteenth Century, by Tri Tran, Mariners Mirror Vol. 89/1, February 2003, p. 44.

I believe that the USN currently uses the international flag "H" to mean "I have a pilot onboard" (among other things -- I recall hoisting it to indicate that the ship was conducting helicopter operations). Might there be a connection between the "H" (which is red and white) and the flags described in the MM article?

Peter Ansoff, 26 February 2003