Collision rules

Collision Rules or “rules of the road at sea” as defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are designed to maintain discipline of marine traffic to prevent collisions between two or more marine vessels. They form the basis of safe marine navigation by fixing issues like speed restrictions, lights, and sound signals. They represent traffic rules related to approaching, passing, giving way and overtaking to avoid collisions between two vessels.  The rules are equally applied to all categories of marine vessels irrespective of their size or purpose.

The Collision rules are covered under the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS) that came into force in July 1977. The rules updated and replaced the earlier Collision Regulations of 1960. Prior to these rules, there were no uniform set of international rules for ships, especially related to navigational lights for operating in darkness and navigations marks. That created dangerous confusion and ambiguity between vessels leading to several unintended collisions. These rules have been amended several times in order to address new issues and solutions related to sea navigation.  IMO adopted 55 new amendments to COLREGS in November 1981, which came into force in June 1983. IMO adopted 9 more amendments that entered into force in November 1989. More amendments were made in 1993 that were related to positioning of lights on vessels. In 2007, Annex IV (Distress signals) was re-written.

Collision Rules have a set of thirty-eight rules divided into five parts (A-E). The parts include General Definitions, Steering and Sailing Rules, Lights and Shapes, Sound and Light Signals, and Exemptions.

Lights and Shapes part regulates the positioning of lights on vessels so that ships can see each other in night and accurately determine the route of each other. The shape of the light helps in determining the type of vessel and her actual employment.

Steering and Sailing Rules are the most important rules under COLREGS.  They have been designed to keep vessels apart when they approach each other.

Sound signals are used by vessels during restricted visibility, such as in the case of excessive fog. Under this rule a vessel needs to alert other vessels by giving one prolonged blast every two minutes when she is making way through the water, and two prolonged blasts every two minutes if she is under way but stopped. If she has anchored, she needs to ring the bell rapidly for five seconds every two minutes.

Part A - General

1. Application

(a) These rules shall apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by sea going vessels

(b) Nothing in these Rules shall interfere with the operation of special rules made by an appropriate authority for roadsteads, harbours, rivers, lakes or inland waterways connected with the high seas and navigable by seagoing vessels. Such special rules shall conform as closely as possible to these Rules

(c) Nothing in these Rules shall interfere with the operation of any special rule made by the Government of any State with respect to additional station or signal lights, shapes or whistle signals for ships of war and vessels proceeding under convoy, or with respect to additional station or signal lights or shapes for fishing vessels engaged in fishing as a fleet. These additional station or signal lights, shapes or whistle signals shall, so far as possible, be such that they cannot be mistaken for any light, shape or signal authorised elsewhere under these Rules

(d) Traffic separation schemes may be adopted by the Organization for the purpose of these Rules.

(e) Whenever the Government concerned shall have determined that a vessel of any special construction or purpose cannot comply with the provisions of any of these Rules with respect to the number, position, range or arc of visibility of lights or shapes, as well as to the disposition and characteristics of sound-signalling appliances, such vessel shall comply with such other provisions in regard to the number, position, range or arc of visibility of lights or shapes, as well as to the disposition and characteristics of sound-signalling appliances, as her Government shall have determined to be the closest possible compliance with these Rules in respect of that vessel.

2. Responsibility

(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case

(b) In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger

[Rule 2 is sometimes referred to as the "General Prudential" rule and provides for non-conformance with stated rules in order to prevent a collision, because what is paramount is to avoid or minimize the damaging effects of a collision, as opposed to blindly following the rules to the letter. The overall intent is to minimize actual collision taking place rather than rule compliance in and of itself, per se.]

3. General Definitions

For the purpose of these Rules, except where the context otherwise requires:

(a) The word “vessel” includes every description of water craft, including non-displacement craft, WIG craft and seaplanes, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.
(b) The term “power-driven vessel” means any vessel propelled by machinery.
(c) The term “sailing vessel” means any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used.
(d) The term “vessel engaged in fishing” means any vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls or other fishing apparatus which restrict manoeuvrability, but does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or other fishing apparatus which do not restrict manoeuvrability.
(e) The word “seaplane” includes any aircraft designed to manoeuvre on the water.
(f) The term “vessel not under command” means a vessel which through some exceptional circumstance is unable to manoeuvre as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel.
(g) The term “vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre” means a vessel which from the nature of her work is restricted in her ability to manoeuvre as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel. The term “vessels restricted in their ability to manoeuvre” shall include but not be limited to:
  • (i) a vessel engaged in laying, servicing or picking up a navigation mark, submarine cable or pipeline;
  • (ii) a vessel engaged in dredging, surveying or underwater operations;
  • (iii) a vessel engaged in replenishment or transferring persons, provisions or cargo while underway;
  • (iv) a vessel engaged in the launching or recovery of aircraft;
  • (v) a vessel engaged in mine clearance operations;
  • (vi) a vessel engaged in a towing operation such as severely restricts the towing vessel and her tow in their ability to deviate from their course.
(h) The term “vessel constrained by her draught” means a power-driven vessel which, because of her draught in relation to the available depth and width of navigable water, is severely restricted in her ability to deviate from the course she is following.
(i) The word “underway” means that a vessel is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.
(j) The words “length” and “breadth” of a vessel mean her length overall and greatest breadth.
(k) Vessels shall be deemed to be in sight of one another only when one can be observed visually from the other.
(l) The term “restricted visibility” means any condition in which visibility is restricted by fog, mist, falling snow, heavy rainstorms, sandstorms or any other similar causes.
(m) The term “Wing-In-Ground (WIG) craft” means a multimodal craft which, in its main operational mode, flies in close proximity to the surface by utilizing surface-effect action.

Part B - Steering and sailing

Section I (for any visibility)

4. Application

The rules apply in any visibility (e.g. in sight or in restricted visibility).

5. Look-out

Every vessel must at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight (day shape or lights by eyes or visual aids)and hearing (sound signal or Marine VHF radio) as well as by all available means (e.g. Radar, ARPA, AIS, GMDSS...) in order to make a full assessment of the situation and risk of collision.

6. Safe speed

Any vessel must proceed at a safe speed at which she can to take action to avoid collision and be able to stop within a distance suitable to the prevailing conditions. These conditions include the visibility; traffic density; her manoeuvrability (e.g. stopping distance and turning ability); background lights on shore, dazzle and backscatter from her own lights; the state of the wind, sea, current and nearly hazards; and draft in relation to the available water.

When radar is in use also consider: limitations of the equipment; range scale in use; sea-state, weather and other interference; possible weak targets; the number of targets and their movement; that the use of radar may help to judge the visibility.

7. Risk of Collision

Vessels must use all available means to determine the risk of a collision, including the use of radar (if available) to get early warning of the risk of collision by radar plotting or equivalent systematic observation of detected objects. (e.g. ARPA, AIS).

If the distance of any vessel is reducing and her compass bearing is not changing much or it is a large vessel or towing vessel at close distance, or if there is any doubt, then a risk of collision shall be deemed to exist.

8. Action to avoid collision

    Actions taken to avoid collision should be:

  • positive
  • obvious
  • made in good time

9. Narrow channels

A vessel proceeding along a narrow channel must keep to starboard.

Small vessels or sailing vessels must not impede (larger) vessels which can navigate only within a narrow channel.

Ships must not cross a channel if to do so would impede another vessel which can navigate only within that channel.

10. Traffic Separation Schemes

Ships must cross traffic lanes steering a course "as nearly as practicable" at right angles to the direction of traffic. This reduces confusion and enables that vessel to cross the lane as quickly as possible.

Vessel entering a traffic separation scheme should do it at an angle as small as practicable.

A traffic separation scheme does not relieve any vessel from complying with other rules.

Section II (for vessels in sight of one another)

11. Application

The following rules 11-18 applies to vessels in sight of one another. (Section III has specific requirements for restricted visibility)

12. Sailing vessels

Two sailing vessels approaching one another must give-way as follows:

Port gives way to Starboard. When each has the wind on a different side, the vessel which has the wind to port must give way;

Windward gives way to leeward. When both have the wind on the same side, the vessel which is windward must give way to the vessel which is leeward;

Unsure port gives way. If a vessel, with the wind on the port side, sees a vessel to windward and cannot determine whether the other vessel has the wind on the port or the starboard side, they must give way.

13. Overtaking

An overtaking vessel must keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken. 'Overtaking' means approaching another vessel at more than 22.5 degrees abaft her beam, i.e. so that at night, the overtaking vessel would see only the stern light and neither of the sidelights of the vessel being overtaken.

14. Head-on situations

When two power-driven vessels are meeting head-on both must alter course to starboard so that they pass on the port side of the other. 'Head-on' means seeing the other vessel ahead or nearly ahead so that by night her masthead lights are actually or nearly lined up and/or seeing both her sidelights, or by day seeing a similar aspect of her.

15. Crossing situations

When two power-driven vessels are crossing, the vessel which has the other on the starboard side must give way and avoid crossing ahead of her. The saying is "If to starboard red appear, 'tis your duty to keep clear".

16. The give-way vessel

The give-way vessel must take early and substantial action to keep well clear.

17. The stand-on vessel

The stand-on vessel shall maintain her course and speed, but she may take action to avoid collision if it becomes clear that the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action, or when so close that collision can no longer be avoided by the actions of the give-way vessel alone. In a crossing situation, the stand-on vessel should avoid turning to port even if the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action. These options for the stand-on vessel do not relieve the give-way vessel of her obligations under the rules.

18. Responsibilities between vessels

Except in narrow channels, traffic separation schemes, and when overtaking (i.e. rules 9, 10, and 13)

  • A power-driven vessel must give way to:
-  a vessel not under command;
-  a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver (this may include vessels towing one another);
-  a vessel engaged in fishing;
-  a sailing vessel.
  • A sailing vessel must give way to:
-  a vessel not under command;
-  a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver;
-  a vessel engaged in fishing.
  • A vessel engaged in fishing when underway shall, so far as possible, keep out of the way of:
-  a vessel not under command;
-  a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver.
  • Any vessel other than a vessel not under command or a vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre shall, if possible, not impede the safe passage of a vessel constrained by her draft, exhibiting the signals in Rule 28.
  • A vessel constrained by her draft shall navigate with particular caution having full regard to her special condition.

Section III (for restricted visibility)

19. Restricted visibility

(a) Rule 19 applies to vessels (not in sight of one another) in or near restricted visibility.
(b) All ships shall proceed at a safe speed for the condition of visibility (see Rule 6). A power-driven vessel shall have her engine(s) on stand-by for immediate manoeuvre.
(c) All ships shall comply with Section I of this Part e.g. Rules 5 (lookout), 6 (safe speed), 7 (risk of collision), 8 (action to avoid collisions), 9 (narrow channels) and 10 (TSS) with due regard for the visibility conditions.
(d) If another vessel is detected by radar alone, and a close-quarters or collision risk is suspected, a vessel should take early and substantial action to avoid the other, but:

(i) avoid any turn to port for a vessel detected forward of the beam, except for a vessel being overtaken,
(ii) avoid any change of course toward a vessel abeam or abaft the beam.

When the fog signal of another vessel is heard, apparently forward of the beam, a vessel should reduce speed to the minimum at which she can maintain her course, or if necessary stop, and navigate with extreme caution until there is no risk of collision.

Part C - Lights and shapes

20. Application

Rules concerning lights apply from sunset to sunrise, in conditions of restricted visibility, and in all other circumstances when it is deemed necessary. Rules concerning shapes apply during the day.

21. Definitions

"Masthead light" means a white light on the centreline of the vessel showing from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel.

"Sidelights" means a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side each showing from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on its respective side. If the vessel is less than 20 metres (66 ft) long, the sidelights may be combined in one fixture carried on the centreline of the vessel.

"Sternlight" means a white light placed as nearly as practicable at the stern showing 67.5 degrees from right aft on each side of the vessel.

"Towing light" means a yellow light having the same characteristics as a "sternlight" defined above.
"All-round light" means a light visible from 360 degrees of the horizon.
"Flashing light" means a light flashing faster than 120 flashes per minute.

22. Visibility of lights

Lights must be bright enough to be visible as follows:

Light type Vessels 50 metres (164 ft) or more in length Vessels between 12–50 metres (39–164 ft) in length Vessels less than 12 metres (39 ft) in length
Masthead light 6 nautical miles 5 miles; except for vessels less than 20 metres (66 ft), 3 miles 2 miles
Sidelight 3 miles 2 miles 1 mile
Towing light 3 miles 2 miles 2 miles
White, red, green or yellow all-around light 3 miles 2 miles 2 miles

23. Lights displayed by power-driven vessels underway      

  • A power-driven vessel underway must display:
    • a masthead light forward;
    • If over 50 metres (164 ft) length, then also a second masthead light aft and higher than the forward one; except that a vessel of less than 50 metres in length shall not be obliged to exhibit such light but may do so;
    • sidelights;
    • a sternlight.
  • A hovercraft must also display an all-round flashing yellow light.
  • A wing-in-ground craft must also display a bright all-round flashing red light when taking off, landing, or flying near the surface.
  • A power-driven vessel of less than 12 metres (39.4 ft) may display only an all-round white light and sidelights. However, in the case of a skiff a wooden clinker rowing boat which falls into this category only needs to be capable of showing a white light.
  • A power-driven vessel of less than 7 metres (23.0 ft) whose maximum speed does not exceed 7 knots (13 km/h; 8 mph) must be capable of showing a white light

24. Lights for vessels towing and pushing

  • A power driven vessel when towing must show
    • two masthead lights on top of each other, instead of the masthead(s) prescribed in Rule 23;
    • sidelights;
    • a sternlight;
    • a towing light vertically above the sternlight;
    • a diamond shape if the tow is longer than 200 metres (656 ft).
  • if a pushing vessel and the vessel it is pushing are rigidly connected, they count together as a power driven vessel and must show the light prescribed by Rule 23.
  • If the pushing vessel and vessel being pushed are not rigidly connected, they must instead show:
    • two masthead lights on top of each other, instead of the masthead(s) prescribed in Rule 23;
    • sidelights;
    • a sternlight on the pushing vessel only.
  • Power driven vessels larger than 50 metres (164 ft) which are towing or pushing and are not part of a composite unit must also show:
    • a second masthead abaft of and higher than the forward one (vessels smaller than 50 metres may also show this light).
  • Vessels being towed that are not inconspicuous or partly submerged must show:
    • sidelights;
    • a sternlight;
    • a diamond shape if the tow is longer than 200 metres (656 ft).
  • Any number of vessels being towed or pushed together shall be lit as one vessel, and
    • a vessel being pushed ahead must show sidelights at its forward end if it is not part of a composite unit;
    • a vessel being towed alongside must show a sternlight and sidelights at its forward end.
  • A vessel being towed that are inconspicuous or partly submerged must show:
    • if it is narrower than 25 metres (82 ft), one all-round white light near the forward end (except if it is a dracone) and one near the after end;
    • if it is wider than 25 metres (82 ft), then also two all round white lights at the extremities of its breadth;
    • if it is longer than 100 metres (328 ft), then in a series of such all round white lights spaced no further than 100 metres (328 ft) apart;
    • a diamond shape near the end of the last vessel, and, if the tow is longer than 200 metres (656 ft), another diamond shape as far forward as possible.
    • If for any reason it is not possible to light the vessel according to these rules, all possible measures must be taken to light the vessel and indicate its presence.
    • If the towing vessel is not normally engaged in towing operations and it is impractical to light it correctly, it is not obliged to show these lights if it is towing a vessel in distress or in need of assistance. All possible measures must be taken to show that it is towing; in particular the towline should be illuminated.

25. Lights for sailing and rowing vessels

Sailing vessels underway and vessels under oars

(a) A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit:
        1. sidelights;
        2. a sternlight.
(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 metres (66 ft) in length the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.
(c) A sailing vessel underway may, in addition to the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit at or near the top of the mast, where they can best be seen, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green, but these lights shall not be exhibited in conjunction with the combined lantern permitted by paragraph (b) of this Rule.
(d) 1. A sailing vessel of less than 7 metres (23.0 ft) in length shall, if practicable, exhibit the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) or (b) of this Rule, but if she does not, she shall have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.
     2. A vessel under oars may exhibit the lights prescribed in this Rule for sailing vessels, but if she does not, she shall have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.
(e) A vessel proceeding under sail when also being propelled by machinery shall exhibit forward where it can best be seen a conical shape, apex downwards.

26. Lights for fishing vessels

Fishing Vessels

(a) A vessel engaged in fishing, whether underway or at anchor, shall exhibit only the lights and shapes prescribed in this Rule.
(b) A vessel when engaged in trawling, by which is meant the dragging through the water of a dredge net or other apparatus used as a fishing appliance, shall exhibit:
1. two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being green and the lower white, or a shape consisting of two cones with their apexes together in a vertical line one above the other;
2. a masthead light abaft of and higher than the all-round green light; a vessel of less than 50 metres (164 ft) in length shall not be obliged to exhibit such a light but may do so;
3. when making way through the water, in addition to the lights prescribed in this paragraph, sidelights and a sternlight.
(c) A vessel engaged in fishing, other than trawling, shall exhibit:
1. two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower white, or a shape consisting of two cones with apexes together in a vertical line one above the other;
2. when there is outlying gear extending more than 150 metres horizontally from the vessel, an all-round white light or a cone apex upwards in the direction of the gear;
3. when making way through the water, in addition to the lights prescribed in this paragraph, sidelights and a sternlight.
(d) The additional signals described in Annex II to these Regulations apply to a vessel engaged in fishing in close proximity to other vessels engaged in fishing.
(e) A vessel when not engaged in fishing shall not exhibit the lights or shapes prescribed in this Rule, but only those prescribed for a vessel of her length.

27. Lights for vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre

Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre
(a) A vessel not under command shall exhibit:
1. two all-round red lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen;
2. two balls or similar shapes in a vertical line where they can best be seen;
3. when making way through the water, in addition to the lights prescribed in this paragraph, sidelights and a sternlight.
(b) A vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre, except a vessel engaged in mine-clearance operations, shall exhibit:
1. three all-round lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen. The highest and lowest of these lights shall be red and the middle light shall be white;
2. three shapes in a vertical line where they can best be seen. The highest and lowest of these shapes shall be balls and the middle one a diamond;
3. when making way through the water, a masthead light or lights, sidelights and a sternlight, in addition to the lights prescribed in sub-paragraph (i);
4. when at anchor, in addition to the lights or shapes prescribed in sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii), the light, lights or shape prescribed in Rule 30.
(c) A power-driven vessel engaged in a towing operation such as severely restricts the towing vessel and her tow in their ability to deviate from their course shall, in addition to the lights or shapes prescribed in Rule 24(a), exhibit the lights or shapes prescribed in sub-paragraphs (b)(i) and (ii) of this Rule.
(d) A vessel engaged in dredging or underwater operations, when restricted in her ability to manoeuvre, shall exhibit the lights and shapes prescribed in sub-paragraphs (b)(i), (ii) and (iii) of this Rule and shall in addition, when an obstruction exists, exhibit:
1. two all-round red lights or two balls in a vertical line to indicate the side on which the obstruction exists;
2. two all-round green lights or two diamonds in a vertical line to indicate the side on which another vessel may pass;
3. when at anchor, the lights or shapes prescribed in this paragraph instead of the lights or shape prescribed in Rule 30.
(e) Whenever the size of a vessel engaged in diving operations makes it impracticable to exhibit all lights and shapes prescribed in paragraph (d) of this Rule, the following shall be exhibited:
1. three all-round lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen. The highest and lowest of these lights shall be red and the middle light shall be white;
2. a rigid replica of the International Code flag "A" not less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) in height. Measures shall be taken to ensure its all-round visibility.
(f) A vessel engaged in mine clearance operations shall in addition to the lights prescribed for a power-driven vessel in Rule 23 or to the lights or shape prescribed for a vessel at anchor in Rule 30 as appropriate, exhibit three all-round green lights or three balls. One of these lights or shapes shall be exhibited near the foremast head and one at each end of the fore yard. These lights or shapes indicate that it is dangerous for another vessel to approach within 1,000 metres (0.62 mi) of the mine clearance vessel.
(g) Vessels of less than 12 metres (39.4 ft) in length, except those engaged in diving operations, shall not be required to exhibit the lights and shapes prescribed in this Rule.
(h) The signals prescribed in this Rule are not signals of vessels in distress and requiring assistance. Such signals are contained in Annex IV to these Regulations.

28. Lights for vessels constrained by their draught

A vessel constrained by her draft may, in addition to the lights prescribed for power-driven vessels in Rule 23, exhibit where they can best be seen three all-round red lights in a vertical line, or a cylinder.

29. Lights for pilot vessels

(a) A vessel engaged on pilotage duty shall exhibit:

(i) at or near the masthead, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being white and the lower red;
(ii) when underway, in addition, sidelights and a sternlight;
(iii) when at anchor, in addition to the lights prescribed in subparagraph (i), the light, lights, or shape prescribed in Rule 30 for vessels at anchor.

(b) A pilot vessel when not engaged on pilotage duty shall exhibit the lights or shapes prescribed for a similar vessel of her length.

30. Lights for vessels anchored and aground

A vessel at anchor must display an all-round white light or one black ball in the fore part and another all-round white light at or near the stern at a lower level than the light in the fore part. BUT if the vessel is less than 50 meters in length it may exhibit an all-round white light where it can best be seen instead of the lights foresaid.

31. Lights for seaplanes

Part D - Sound and light signals

32. Definitions of whistle short blast (1 second), and prolonged blast (4–6 seconds).

33. Equipment

Vessels 12 metres (39.4 ft) or more in length should carry a whistle and a bell and vessels 100 metres (328 ft) or more in length should carry in addition a gong. On many vessels, a horn serves the purpose of a whistle.

34. Manoeuvring and warning signals, using whistle or lights (summary chart)

The signals are used when vessels are in sight of one another

35. Sound signals to be used in restricted visibility (summary chart)

The signals are used when vessels are in restricted visibility.

36. Signals to be used to attract attention

37. Distress signals

Part E - Exemption

38. Exemption

Any vessel (or class of vessel) provided that she complies with the requirements of the International Regulations for the Preventing of Collisions at Sea, 1960, the keel of which is laid or is at a corresponding stage of construction before the entry into force of these Regulations may be exempted from compliance therewith as follows:

(a) The installation of lights with ranges prescribed in Rule 22, until 4 years after the date of entry into force of these regulations.
(b) The installation of lights with color specifications as prescribed in Section 7 of Annex I to these Regulations, until 4 years after the entry into force of these Regulations.
(c) The repositioning of lights as a result of conversion from Imperial to metric units and rounding off measurement figures, permanent exemption.
(d)     (i) The repositioning of masthead lights on vessels of less than 150 meters in length, resulting from the prescriptions of Section 3 (a) of Annex I to these regulations, permanent exemption.
(ii). The repositioning of masthead lights on vessels of 150 meters or more in length, resulting from the prescriptions of Section 3 (a) of Annex I to these regulations, until 9 years after the date of entry into force of these Regulations.
(e) The repositioning of masthead lights resulting from the prescriptions of Section 2(b) of Annex I to these Regulations, until 9 years after the date of entry into force of these Regulations.
(f) The repositioning of sidelights resulting from the prescriptions of Section 2(g) and 3(b) of Annex I to these Regulations, until 9 years after the date of entry into force of these Regulations.
(g) The requirements for sound signal appliances prescribed in Annex II to these Regulations, until 9 years after the date of entry into force of these Regulations.
(h) The repositioning of all-round lights resulting from the prescription of Section 9(b) of Annex I to these Regulations, permanent exemption.

Annexes

ANNEX I - Positioning and technical details of lights and shapes
ANNEX II - Additional signals for fishing vessels fishing in close proximity
ANNEX III - Technical details of sound signal appliances
ANNEX IV - Distress signals

1. 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-signalling apparatus;
(c) rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals;
(d) a signal made by radiotelegraphy or by any other signalling 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 NC;
(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-coloured 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; (see GMDSS)
(n) approved signals transmitted by radiocommunication systems, including survival craft radar transponders. (see GMDSS)

2. 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.

3. Attention is drawn to the relevant sections of the International Code of Signals, the Merchant Ship Search and Rescue Manual, Annex III and the following signals;
(a) a piece of orange-coloured canvas with either a black square and circle or other appropriate symbol (for identification from the air);
(b) a dye marker.