Saturday, April 25, 2015

Not Under Command

If the United States were a ship, it would be displaying its "Not under command" signal -- two red balls (by day) or lights (by night) in a vertical line indicating that the ship cannot control its movements because of problems with its steering gear or propulsion system. Other vessels who observe the signal know that they must take action to stay out of the ship's way because it is incapable of fulfilling its obligations under the International Rules of the Road.

During my Navy days, in order to remember the meaning of three similar signals, white over red (a pilot boat on station), red over white (a fishing boat engaged in fishing), and the aforementioned red over red, we used this mnemonic: 

"White over red: Pilot ahead; 
Red over white: Fishing at night; 
Red over red: Captain is dead."

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