Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy


Male Enlisted Radioman

You may have heard a Sailor or Soldier spell a word to someone over the radio or on the phone in a funny code. It may have sounded like she or he was transmitting a highly classified message, when they were merely speaking in the military's alphabet. We cannot give away any encrypted codes, but you can learn this alphabet to create your own secret messages.

 

 

 


Female enlisted on phone

The Navy and other services use the same 26-letter alphabet that we use everyday, but they substitute a word for each letter. You might pronounce the letter "a" when spelling the word a-n-t. A Sailor uses words in place of each letter, making a-n-t into alpha november tango.

The Navy also uses flags to symbolize letters. These signal flags are flown on the open deck of a ship or boat. Flags allow ships to quickly communicate with other vessels without picking up a radio or sending an e-mail. Special combinations of flags translate into phrases or warnings, such as "submarine attack!"

 

 

 

Ready?

Here is the alphabet, then we will test your knowledge.
For a more detailed explanation and a guide to the alphabet before 1957 click here [Bad Link]



Military Alphabet and Signal Flags

A Alpha Alpha   N November November
B Bravo Bravo   O Oscar Oscar
C Charlie Charlie   P Papa Papa
D Delta Delta   Q Quebec Quebec
E Echo Echo   R Romeo Romeo
F Foxtrot Foxtrot   S Sierra Sierra
G Golf Golf   T Tango Tango
H Hotel Hotel   U Uniform Uniform
I India India   V Victor Victor
J Juliet Juliet   W Whiskey Whiskey
K Kilo Kilo   X X-ray X-ray
L Lima Lima   Y Yankee Yankee
M Mike Mike   Z Zulu Zulu

 

Spell these words aloud with the new alphabet:

Navy Destroyer
Washington DC Frigate
Museum Mast
Exhibits Admiral
Ship Sailor
Submarine Chief
Aviator SONAR

Match these flag configurations with the words you just spelled above.

NovemberAlphaVictorYankee SierraOscarNovemberRomeo
DeltaEchoSierraTangoRomeoOscarYankeeEchoRomeo CharlieHotelIndiaEchoFoxtrot
MikeUniformSierraEchoUniformMike FoxtrotRomeoIndiaGolfAlphaTangoEcho
EchoX-rayHotelIndiaBravoIndiaTangoSierra AlphaVictorIndiaAlphaTangoOscarRomeo
SierraHotelIndiaPapa MikeAlphaSierraTango
WhiskeyAlphaSierraHotelIndiaNovemberGolfTangoOscarNovemberDeltaCharlie AlphaDeltaMikeIndiaRomeoAlphaLima
SierraUniformBravoMikeAlphaRomeoIndiaNovemberEcho SierraAlphaIndiaLimaOscarRomeo

BravoZulu
BRAVO ZULU!
GREAT JOB! Thanks for playing!

 

 

Published: Thu Aug 18 09:42:20 EDT 2016