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    Re: Grand Princess and Plague flag
    From: David Pike
    Date: 2020 Mar 17, 13:02 -0700
    Lu Abel you wrote: From a slightly different perspective, I noticed that the Grand Princess (since renamed by SF area residents the Corona Princess) was flying the Bravo signal flag.  One of the messages associated with flying the flag is "I am carrying dangerous goods"   The Bravo flag is usually seen on fuel barges.   But I could understand it being flown by a ship with a dangerous disease aboard.
    Come to think of it the yellow "Q" flag means "vessel is healthy" - certainly NOT the case with the Corona Princess....

    The Grand Princess was built for Princess Lines by Fincantieri at Malfalconi Italy in 1997/8.  She has been registered in Hamilton, Bermuda since 2000, which accounts for her flying the British Red Ensign from her central halliard above her bridge.  Technically, her ensign should carry the Bermudian coat of arms, similar to the former ensigns of Canada and South Africa.  Maybe she has two, a bright Bermudian ensign for use in port, and a weathered Red ensign for cruising.  Also technically, her country of registration ensign should be flown from her stern, but cruise ships are so high and wide at their stern that an ensign flown from that position would be hidden (Grand Princess, as originally built, had an even higher stern).  Also, it’s a heck of a walk from her bridge to her stern if you ever needed to dip it upon encountering a warship.  From her starboard signal halliard, she is flying the US flag out of courtesy.  From her port signal halliards, she appears to be flying the Q Flag, H Flag, and S Flag.  The Q flag is a request for ‘free practique’.  The H flag indicates a pilot on board (white before red – safe home to bed).  Even if the Captain or first officer is ‘pilot qualified’ for SF area they’d still probably fly the H flag.  The S flag ought to be indicting ‘my engines going astern’.  Perhaps they are; it takes a long time to stop a vessel of that size.  Alternatively, it might mean ‘I’m quite likely to run my engines astern shortly’.  On the other hand, S and H together might be a two-flag signal, but I was unable to find one, and in any case, they would be flown one above the other.  Care has to be taken following up flags in media photos in relation to the recent incident, because San Francisco is Grand Princess’ home port, so some photos used by the media might have been taken on earlier visits.

    The meaning of the Q flag appears to have changed over the years.  Yellow was once a sign of disease, so initially a yellow flag probably meant disease on board.  Was yellow originally allocated to Q, because Q was the first letter of quarantine?  I’ve no idea.  Then the flag came to mean the opposite; ‘no disease on board; come and check’.  Then the ‘come and check’ seems to have taken a more generalised invitation meaning ‘This is my first port of call in your country, please come and check my freedom of disease, ship’s papers, and to complete any customs requirements’.  Therefore, it wouldn’t be incorrect for Grand Princess to fly the Q flag, even if she had disease on board, especially as this was already known to the authorities, because they would have had notification from the ship by radio.  The Q flag might be kept flying after a vessel has berthed, at least until the Customs Officer has arrived, so they know where to find her although in the case of the Grand Princess, you could hardly miss her. DaveP 

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