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e-CFR data is current as of April 9, 2021

Title 33Chapter ISubchapter E → Part 87

Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters


§87.01   Need of assistance.
§87.02   Exclusive use.
§87.03   Supplemental signals.

Authority: Sec. 303, Pub. L. 108-293, 118 Stat. 1042 (33 U.S.C. 2071); Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

Source: 79 FR 37925, July 2, 2014, unless otherwise noted.

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§87.01   Need of assistance.

The following signals, used or exhibited either together or separately, indicate distress and need of assistance:

(a) A gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute;

(b) A continuous sounding with any fog-signaling apparatus;

(c) Rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals;

(d) A signal made by any method consisting of the group .  .  . -  -  -  .  .  . (SOS) in the Morse Code;

(e) A signal sent by radiotelephony consisting of the spoken word “Mayday”;

(f) The International Code Signal of distress indicated by N.C.;

(g) A signal consisting of a square flag having above or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball;

(h) Flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc.);

(i) A rocket parachute flare or a hand flare showing a red light;

(j) A smoke signal giving off orange-colored smoke;

(k) Slowly and repeatedly raising and lowering arms outstretched to each side;

(l) A distress alert by means of digital selective calling (DSC) transmitted on:

(i) VHF channel 70, or

(ii) MF/HF on the frequencies 2187.5 kHz, 8414.5 kHz, 4207.5 kHz, 6312 kHz, 12577 kHz or 16804.5 kHz;

(m) A ship-to-shore distress alert transmitted by the ship's Inmarsat or other mobile satellite service provider ship earth station;

(n) Signals transmitted by emergency position-indicating radio beacons;

(o) Signals transmitted by radiocommunication systems, including survival craft radar transponders meeting the requirements of 47 CFR 80.1095; and

(p) A high intensity white light flashing at regular intervals from 50 to 70 times per minute.

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§87.02   Exclusive use.

The use or exhibition of any of the foregoing signals except for the purpose of indicating distress and need of assistance and the use of other signals which may be confused with any of the above signals is prohibited.

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§87.03   Supplemental signals.

Attention is drawn to the relevant sections of the International Code of Signals, the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual, Volume III, the International Telecommunication Union Radio Regulations and the following signals:

(a) A piece of orange-colored canvas with either a black square and circle or other appropriate symbol (for identification from the air);

(b) A dye marker.

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