Ships that pass in the night,
and speak each other in passing,
only a signal shown,
and a distant voice in the darkness,
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American Poet, 1807-1882
International marine signal flags are used by ships to spell out short messages, used individually or as part of a combination for a special meaning. For ceremonial and festive occasions ships can be dressed in marine signal flags with the flags strung from the rigging either end to end or bow to stern.