7. In formation, the officer in tactical command
(OTC) of all ships present is notified.
The man-overboard flag is the OSCAR flag
displayed at the foretruck or where it can best be seen
during daylight hours. When someone goes overboard
at night, the peacetime procedure is the display of two
blinking red lights arranged vertically. In addition,
either by day or night, the ship losing the person sounds
six or more short blasts on the whistle.
Only the ship losing a person overboard may make
the signals described in the foregoing section. Action
taken by other ships in a formation or around the ship
losing the person overboard depends on existing
conditions. If at all possible, the person overboard is to
be rescued, but collisions must be avoided.
Flag or Blinker
1 white star
away from ship
1 red star
(or to port)
8 STARBOARD 1 green star
(or to starboard)
The peacetime (standard) practice for a ship losing
a person overboard follows:
1. Anyone aboard ship who sees a person fall
overboard must shout as loud as possible and
without hesitation, MAN OVERBOARD,
STARBOARD (PORT) SIDE. This call must
be repeated until the conning officer takes
necessary action or indicates in some way that
the word was received.
2 green stars
2 red stars
Return to ship
2 white stars
Lifeboat Signal to Ship
When a lifeboat is attempting to pick up a person
overboard at night, the following signals are used from
the boat to the ship.
2. Rudder and engines are used, if appropriate, to
avoid hitting the person with the screws.
3. A lifebuoy and smoke float are dropped.
When launching a Mk 6 smoke float, (a) remove
the tape from over the pull ring, (b) pull the ring
smartly from the device, and (c) immediately
throw the smoke float over the side. Do NOT
remove the tape from over the pull ring until just
before launching. Salt air will rust the pull wire,
causing it to break and thereby making the
1 green star
1 white star
4. At least six short blasts are sounded on the
5. By day the OSCAR flag is hoisted where it can
be seen best. By night, two pulsating red lights
arranged vertically are displayed. (In peacetime
any ship may use searchlights as necessary.)
You should have learned in this chapter the various
watchstander's equipment used on the ship's bridge.
Failure to use proper nomenclature or a lack of basic
knowledge of a ship's equipment is unprofessional and
may, in an emergency, lead to dangerous confusion.
As an underway watchstander, you will perform, on
occasion, routine checks or tests on bridge equipment as
either the messenger of the watch or the helmsman.
6. The ship is maneuvered as prescribed by
Know your job and keep your equipment in good
working order so you can do an outstanding job!
Signals to Lifeboat
The following signals are used to direct a lifeboat
engaged in picking up a person overboard.