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Maritime Signal Flags Quebec Quebec: “I require health clearance”

PortandTerminal.com, March 16, 2020

Trending flag: Signal flag “QQ” = “I require health clearance”

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – Here’s a handy maritime signal flag to know these days. Signal Flags QQ – “I require health clearance”.

In the past, ships would fly the yellow flag with black boxes in the upper right and lower left quadrants (below) – Signal Flag Lima – to signify that the ship is under quarantine.

Signal flag lima
Signal Flag Lima: Ship is Under Quarantine

No one aboard a vessel flying a yellow flag would be allowed ashore for an extended period, typically 30 to 40 days.

Fun fact. The word “quarantine” originates from the Venetian dialect form of the Italian quaranta giorni, meaning “forty days”. 

This is due to the 40-day isolation of ships and people practiced as a measure of disease prevention related to the plague. Between 1348 and 1359, the Black Death wiped out an estimated 30% of Europe’s population, and a significant percentage of Asia’s population as well. The disaster led governments to establish measures of containment to handle recurrent epidemics. 

Updated Signalling Practices

The plain yellow flag (“Quebec” or Q in international maritime signal flags), derives its letter symbol for its initial use in quarantine. It is also sometimes referred to as “Yellow Jack”

These days, according to the International Code of Signals (US Edition) it is signal flags Quebec Quebec (QQ) that are flown to communicate “I require health clearance”

Signal flag Quebec Quebec
QQ = “I require health clearance”

A ship flying just one solid yellow flag “Q” declares itself free of quarantinable disease and requests boarding and inspection by Port State Control to give it the all-clear.

Signal flag Quebec
Q = “My vessel is healthy and I request free practique”

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Rob Murray for his assistance with this article.

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