In the distance, as you approach another vessel you see the BRAVO Flag, also indicated at night by a steady all-around RED light at the uppermost point on the mast. What does it mean? Loading hazardous materials to include fuels, ammunition, and anything else that could be of danger to humans and environment. Every time a ship or other type of vessel shows this color, or visual signal, it means this very same process and evolution is ongoing. A time for extreme caution, the profound reason to recognize the hazards of this environment. There are numerous documented accidents involving operations that required BRAVO. Just within the past few years there have been catastrophic maritime incidents involving this extreme danger and yet it still happens far too often, even with this signal showing for all to see.

When you are fueling your vessel, especially with gasoline, you should have blowers that vacate the bilges of the fumes operating for at least 4 minutes or greater, actually longer the better. Failure to do so could produce disastrous results. Imagine the horror of a vessel while fueling or starting up without this precaution and procedure, exploding like a high power bomb from the accumulation of gas fumes, igniting a firestorm destroying everything and everyone in its broad reach.

Required by commercial and military operations this identifier BRAVO should be considered for your own vessel. The best logical answer for improved maritime safety is vibrant visual communication. Knowing beforehand is far better than recovering from, or reacting to the aftermath.

Next time you venture out on the water consider BRAVO. Let other boaters know and set the example for other operators to emulate. The vast improvement in Boating Safety will be much appreciated by all...

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