Overview of Regulations for Submarine Identification Lights

Overview of Regulations for Submarine Identification Lights

In the ocean, identification lights serve very important purposes for boats and vessels. According to US marine regulations, submarines are not excluded from this practice, despite requiring discreet operation in underwater locations.

Read on to understand the type of guidelines submarines are subject to during operation.

32 CFR 707.7

Documentation from Cornell Law School provides more details surrounding such regulations. Submarines are required to incorporate flashing luminaries with an amber color. Furthermore, the unit must take on a sequence of one flash per second – for three seconds, in the first display. This is followed by an off period of three seconds in the second sequence.

When it comes to installation, regulators recommend placing the units in a location on the submarine with maximum visibility. The only guideline provided during installation is that the flashing beacons cannot be setup less than two feet from the lighting system on the mast.

Observation of this practice can help improve detection of the beacon lights, ensuring they are not overpowered by the masthead luminaries.

Emergency Signals and Other Considerations

The use of submarine identification lights should not be mixed up with submarine emergency signals, which utilize colored flares or smoke floats to notify patrollers about the status of the vessel. For instance, a yellow signal warns nearby vessels about the action of the sub, suggesting it is about to move up to periscope depth (from a low underwater location). The propellers should remain operational during this signal.

The guidelines surrounding submarine identification lights do not highlight the requirement of specific lighting technologies. This means that it would be possible to use boat LED lights, instead of traditional incandescent or halogen light sources. However, the units must typically operate based on a set of US Navy standards, since the majority of subs are for government, research, scientific or military use.