cruise ships flags

Csail

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Just been on a cruise ship in Spain and all the ships in port dangled a red flag off the bow but what does it mean?
 

Bodach na mara

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One thing I noticed was that the ensign and house flags were flown in port but they were taken down even before we cleared the harbour on departure.
 

cuppateatime

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Just been on a cruise ship in Spain and all the ships in port dangled a red flag off the bow but what does it mean?
Maybe this is a bit late, but thought I would reply anyway.

The red bravo flag hanging from the bow is to indicate that the vessel has provided a fire wire. This is an emergency towing wire which a tug can take should the vessel catch fire and need to be quickly moved out of the harbour to prevent damage to the port. Only a few cruise lines use these, for example royal caribbean and celebrity, it's not really necessary for cruise ships to be honest. You'll mainly find tankers and bulk carriers with these fire wires, particularly because they have some form of dangerous cargo.
 
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The Cruise Ship Diploma course will support your application for any type of position on board because the modules give you the essential training that any new crew member entering the industry needs to know and understand before working on board.
 

peggyt1243

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Maybe this is a bit late, but thought I would reply anyway.

The red bravo flag hanging from the bow is to indicate that the vessel has provided a fire wire. This is an emergency towing wire which a tug can take should the vessel catch fire and need to be quickly moved out of the harbour to prevent damage to the port. Only a few cruise lines use these, for example royal caribbean and celebrity, it's not really necessary for cruise ships to be honest. You'll mainly find tankers and bulk carriers with these fire wires, particularly because they have some form of dangerous cargo.
The red flag hanging from the bow of a ship is similar to the red flag that you hang on a load that protrudes from the rear of your vehicle.
It is a warning flag. Cruise ships often dock where smaller vessels come and go. The bow of a cruise ship often hangs out much further than the bow at the water line. A small vessel, particularly a sail boat with a tall mast could collide if they were not aware of the full length of the bow.
 

peggyt1243

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The red flag hanging from the bow of a ship is similar to the red flag that you hang on a load that protrudes from the rear of your vehicle.
It is a warning flag. Cruise ships often dock where smaller vessels come and go. The bow of a cruise ship often hangs out much further than the bow at the water line. A small vessel, particularly a sail boat with a tall mast could collide if they were not aware of the full length of the bow.
 

peggyt1243

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The red flag hanging from the bow of a ship is similar to the red flag that you hang on a load that protrudes from the rear of your vehicle.
It is a warning flag. Cruise ships often dock where smaller vessels come and go. The bow of a cruise ship often hangs out much further than the bow at the water line. A small vessel, particularly a sail boat with a tall mast could collide if they were not aware of the full length of the bow.

The flag has nothing to do with a "fire wire" whatever that is. It would take a lot more than one line to tow a cruise ship.
 

cuppateatime

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I can assure you that the bravo flag marks the fire wire, or emergency towing system as it is sometimes referred to. I have worked in shipping for many years, and am very much familiar with these. It is a requirement at most oil and gas terminals for tankers loading/unloading to have these rigged and ready Incase of fire. They are Not intended for a tow over a long distance, merely sufficient to tow the ship away from the berth should it be on fire - think gas terminal, and the implication of a ship on fire in close proximity to a) other ships, and b) a terminal with vast storage capabilities of highly flammable gas.
Some cruise lines rig these fire wires, however it is not a requirement. In fact, it would be more damaging to tow the ship off the berth incase of fire as a cruise ships ‘cargo’ would need safely unloading via the quayside gangways if the fire was that bad. You mention small craft passing below the bow - this shouldn’t happen as it is common to have a security exclusion zone around the ship, which should be enforced by both ships crew and the port authorities. Unfortunately it isn’t uncommon to have small craft breach this, and indeed I have seen small craft pass close to my ship. On these occasions they are report to the authorities and hopefully dealt with.
A simple search on google for ship fire wire will reveal more information on these wires if you require.
 

peggyt1243

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A red "bravo" flag flying from a mast may indeed indicate "I am taking in or discharging or carrying dangerous goods." (Originally used by the Royal Navy specifically for military explosives.) as specified in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_maritime_signal_flags .

A red flag hanging some 10 feet above the water line below the bow of the ship is a warning to small craft. Think about it. A cruise ship could have 16 lines fore and aft holding it to a pier. One line at the bow is not going to be able to move the ship. I see cruise ships docked all the time with a red flag below the bow and there is not a tug boat within a 3 hour sail so there is no way, absolutely no way, this bow line with a red flag is used for towing.
 
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cuppateatime

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A red "bravo" flag flying from a mast may indeed indicate "I am taking in or discharging or carrying dangerous goods." (Originally used by the Royal Navy specifically for military explosives.) as specified in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_maritime_signal_flags .

A red flag hanging some 10 feet above the water line below the bow of the ship is a warning to small craft. Think about it. A cruise ship could have 16 lines fore and aft holding it to a pier. One line at the bow is not going to be able to move the ship. I see cruise ships docked all the time with a red flag below the bow and there is not a tug boat within a 3 hour sail so there is no way, absolutely no way, this bow line with a red flag is used for towing.
Ok, apparently you know better from your window watching. I know nothing apparently, despite having worked on one of the largest passenger liners in the world for the last 15 years and being a master mariner. (Incidentally, we do not lower a tow line as it is not a requirement for passenger ships) Peggy, I bow to your far superior knowledge - maybe I will start dangling a flag on a tow wire from the bow of my ship incase any little yachties decide to be so silly as to scrape around my bow and possibly endanger their mast. But why use a boring Bravo flag - a bright multicoloured affair would be far more noticeable. That being said, if a yacht hasn’t notice the humongous 9 deck high chunk of protruding steel that would be my bow, then I doubt they will notice a little flag! Come on, you need to get your facts straight! What you are suggesting is ludicrous!
 

peggyt1243

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The original question pertained to passenger ships, not cargo ships or tankers. I doubt very much that a tug boat would pull a burning passenger ship away from a pier because the first priority would be to get the passengers off. I agree that ships containing dangerous goods could very well have a steel tow line on the water side of a ship (not the berth side) but passenger ships do not have steel lines. The question pertained specifically about the red flags hanging below the bow of passenger ships and those flags are warning flags similar to the ones they sometimes put directly on the mooring lines. I guess we will have to disagree on this one.
 

cuppateatime

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Finally you have got there. The fire tow wire is not a requirement for passenger ships, hence why the majority of pax ships don't use one! None of our company ships use them. I have been on one passenger ship that had wires, not ropes, but due to the safety implications, this is rare as you correctly point out. Some companies - I have noticed celebrity and msc, use fire wires in Port. This is purely a choice by those companies and once again I stress, it is not a requirement. The last thing I would want should my ship catch fire, is for someone to tow me off the Berth! If you see another passenger ship with the red flag at the bow, look closely and you'll see the connecting point for a tug at the end of the wire on which the flag flies from.
 

peggyt1243

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I have already looked closely. There is no connecting point. The line simply holds a red flag above the water to warn small craft. There is one Celebrity ship that never has one of these flags and that is the Edge. Due to its bow shape there is absolutely no need for a warning flag.

Like I said, we will have to disagree. Tankers may have fire wires but passenger ships with red flags hanging below the bow are simply warning flags.
 

cuppateatime

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So why don't any of my company ships fly one? And why haven't any yachts snapped their masts on my bow? I find it deeply saddening that you can't accept you are wrong, even when someone who has spent a lot of time in the industry is telling you the facts. You're reasoning is nothing but rubbish. Passenger ships DO NOT fly warning flags from the bow for silly yachties. Utter rot
 

peggyt1243

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I see them frequently flying below the bow of passenger ships moored where small craft such as launches come and go frequently during the day. These small craft are entering and departing a basin and must go under the mooring lines of cruise ships. The flags and bow lines could not ever be used for tugs because there are no tugs in the port. None.

We are obviously referring to different bow lines and you sir are doubling down on "fire wires" which are ridiculous for cruise ships; simply not relevant and incorrect. Let us end this discussion.
 

cuppateatime

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No one said anything about bow lines being used as tow lines. Mooring lines and towing lines are totally different. Yes end the discussion as you blatantly have no idea what you are talking about. Keep looking out your window and waving at the pretty ships - I won’t wave back that’s for sure!
 

peggyt1243

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Ah but I do know what I am talking about. You are not talking about the line that hangs perpendicular down from the bow and has a red flag close to the water line. It is not a mooring line and it is not a tow line, it is a line specifically to hold a warning flag for small vessels that will pass close by. To suggest such a line would be used by a tug is ludicrous.
 

PilotWolf

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Finally you have got there. The fire tow wire is not a requirement for passenger ships, hence why the majority of pax ships don't use one! None of our company ships use them. I have been on one passenger ship that had wires, not ropes, but due to the safety implications, this is rare as you correctly point out. Some companies - I have noticed celebrity and msc, use fire wires in Port. This is purely a choice by those companies and once again I stress, it is not a requirement. The last thing I would want should my ship catch fire, is for someone to tow me off the Berth! If you see another passenger ship with the red flag at the bow, look closely and you'll see the connecting point for a tug at the end of the wire on which the flag flies from.
I was just going to say Carnival use them in Long Beach California.

W.
 
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