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Navigation Lights



The number of lights a vessel carries and the way in which these lights are displayed allows you to identify a vessel at night. They can also be used to indicate the activities the vessel is engaged in.


type of vessel

Power driven vessel under 50m

Sailing vessel (not under power). More common to use a tri-colour.

Vessel at anchor- 50m or above

Vessel Pushing ahead

Vessel pushing ahead (stern view)

Vessel constrained by draft- under 50m

Towing astern- tow less than 200m

Fishing vessel- under 50m

Vessel restricted in ability to manoeuvre.Not making way.

Vessel towing astern- tow less than 200m.Restricted in ability to manoeuvre.

Vessel not under command, not making way

Pilot Vessel

Submarine- making way

Hover craft (minimum displacement)

Vessel engaged in trawl fishing


It can be seen from above that some vessels will look very similar even though they may be doing completely different things. Also, how do you tell if a vessel is underway, at anchor, or restricted in some way?

Looking more closely at the masthead and stern lights will give you a clue:

 

masthead lights


meaning
ditty
Vessel not under command. (e.g. engine or steering failure) Red over Red. This boat is dead
Indicates a sailing boat. [not commonly used] Red over Green. Sailing machine
A Fishing Boat Red over White. Fishing tonight
A Trawler Green over White. Trawling tonight
A tug with a tow under 200m White over White. A short tow in sight
A tug with a tow over 200m White over White Over White. A long tow in sight
A vessel constrained by her draft Red over Red over Red. Rudder rubbing rocks
A pilot boat White over Red. Pilot ahead
A vessel restricted in its ability to manoeuvre. (e.g. survey vessels, dredgers, dive boats, tugs, aircraft carriers). Red over White over Red. Red when restricted
Minimum displacement  

 

stern lights


meaning
ditty
Stern lights of a tug pushing a barge. Yellow over Yellow. A pushy inland fellow
Stern lights of a tug towing astern. Yellow over White. My towline is tight
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