Vessel emergency codes

In addition to distress signals like Mayday and pan-pan, most vessels, especially passenger ships, use some emergency signals to alert the crew on board. In some cases, the signals may alert the passengers to danger, but, in others, the objective is to conceal the emergency from unaffected passengers so as to avoid panic or undue alarm. Signals can be in the form of blasts on alarm bells, sounds on the ship's whistle or code names paged over the PA system.

  • Alpha Team, Alpha Team, Alpha Team is the code for a fire emergency aboard Carnival Cruise Line ships.
  • Alpha, Alpha, Alpha is the code for Medical Emergency aboard Royal Caribbean ships.
  • Assemble at Muster Stations (General Emergency Signal), seven short blasts followed by one long blast of the ships horn and internal alarm bell system.


  • Bravo, Bravo, Bravo, used by many cruise lines to alert crew to a fire or other serious incident on board without alarming passengers.[2]
  • Operation Brightstar; A medical emergency, such as cardiac or stroke. Used on Carnival and Disney Cruise Line vessels. Can only be requested to be announced by one of the Medical team or an officer with advanced medical training. The spoken word Brightstar over the PA, sometimes supplemented by a group signal on the pager system will alert all of the Medical team including all doctors and nurses to attend the location. The Ventilation Officer (VO) is also alerted during a Brightstar. The VO will start the power to the cooling in the morgue (presuming it is not already in use) as a precaution.
  • Charlie, Charlie, Charlie is the code for a security threat aboard Royal Caribbean ships and the code for upcoming helicopter winch operations aboard c-bed accommodation vessels.
  • Code Blue usually means a medical emergency.
  • Delta, Delta, Delta is the code for a possible bio-hazard among some cruise lines.

More commonly used to alert crew to hull damage on board some lines as well.

  • Echo, Echo, Echo is the code for a possible collision with another ship or the shore aboard Royal Caribbean ships. On board some cruise lines this means danger of high winds while at port. It alerts the crew responsible for the gangway, thrusters etc... to get into position and be ready for new maneuvers.
  • Fire and emergency, continuous ringing of the general alarm bell for ten seconds and a continuous sounding of the ship's whistle for ten seconds. This is the abandon ship signal used at Celebrity Cruises.[1]
  • Kilo, Kilo, Kilo on Royal Caribbean is a general signal for crew to report to emergency stations.
  • Mr Mob means man overboard.[3] Man overboard can also be signaled with three prolonged blasts on the ship's whistle and general alarm bell (Morse code "Oscar").[1]
  • Mr Skylight paged over the PA system is an alert for the crew on board and means there is a minor emergency somewhere.[4][5]
  • Oscar, Oscar, Oscar is the code for Man Overboard aboard Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships.
  • Purell, Purell, Purell followed by a location is for cleanup (vomit) on Celebrity ships.
  • Red Parties, Red Parties, Red Parties, used by Disney Cruise Line over the PA system to alert the crew of a fire or possible fire on board the ship.
  • Star Code, Star Code, Star Code is a code for Medical Emergency aboard Celebrity ships.
  • Zulu, Zulu, Zulu is the code for a fight aboard most cruise lines.

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2000). "General Shipboard Policy Information".
  2. ^ United States Coast Guard – Ken Olsen (200?). "Report of Investigation into the Circumstances Surrounding the Fire aboard Royal Caribbean International Passenger Vessel Nordic Empress" (PDF). {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |year= (help)
  3. ^ The Courier Online – Michael Pearson (2002). "Semester at Sea: "Innocents Abroad, 2002"".
  4. ^ The Joint Accident Investigation Commission of MV ESTONIA and Edita Ltd. (1997). "Final report on the MV ESTONIA disaster of 28 September 1994".
  5. ^ Anders Bergek; Hanna Johansson; Maria Lundquist; Sara Rutgersson; Chris Ryder; Jessica Stark; Maria Stensdotter. Linköpings universitet (2003). "Sjögång och skeppsjargong" (PDF) (in Swedish).