Close this search box.
What does SOS mean and what to do when you hear it

What does SOS mean and what to do when you hear it?

When you hear the word “SOS,” you probably think of the popular singing group from the 1980s, but not a help signal. In distress at sea, certain phrases and words are used to alert responders so they can better understand the nature of the situation.

The use of these terms is not just a standard protocol but has been made mandatory by international conventions such as SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea). They convey vital information about an emergency in just a few letters or words so that everyone can understand. When hearing these phrases, it’s important to know what they mean and what to do next.

What does SOS mean?

SOS (or SOS) stands for “Save Our Souls” or “Save Our Ship”. It is an internationally recognized distress signal consisting of three letters. The two-letter combination is “SOS” which stands for “Save Our Souls”. The three-letter combination is “SOS” followed by another “SOS” meaning “Save Our Ship”. These two variants are the same signal, but they mean different things.

There are also other phrases and phrases you might hear in an emergency situation on board a ship. They are used to alert rescue workers so they can better assess the situation. They convey important information about an emergency in just a few letters or words so that everyone can understand.

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!

This is the international emergency number. It means that a ship is in a situation that poses a serious threat to crew and passengers and requires immediate assistance. When you hear “Mayday,” it is a sign that your ship is in a life-threatening situation. Mayday is used when people’s lives are threatened, e.g. B. when a ship has been hijacked, someone has been injured or there is a risk of it sinking.

Because “Mayday” is an emergency call, it is important that you respond immediately. When your ship hears a mayday call, it’s important to respond, regardless of whether you’re the ship closest to the emergency. Also, remember to turn on your onboard radio and call the authorities to report the

distress signal

The distress signal is used to alert passing vessels to a situation requiring assistance. When your ship hears the distress signal, it is important to respond accordingly. The signal consists of three long blasts followed by a short blast of the ship’s whistle. The long tones indicate a serious problem and an immediate response is required. The distress signal can be used in any of the following situations:

  • The alarm on board the ship
  • Ships in danger of colliding
  • A ship that is damaged
  • A ship with a crew member who is ill and cannot be transferred to another ship
  • Any other situation that requires assistance

The distress signal can also be given by speech, light or Morse code. 

help is on the way

This distress signal is used to reassure people on board a ship that help is on the way. It may be heard when there is a delay in a ship’s response to an emergency, e.g. B. when another ship blocks the path of the ship closest to the scene of the incident. It can also be used when a ship is en route to a ship that is disabled but not in immediate danger, e.g. B. a ship with limited fuel supply.

The ship responding to a distress signal has an obligation to respond, and the crew aboard the responding ship will communicate with the ship in distress. The ship in distress can say that it is disabled and needs help, or that its ship is watered, etc. The responding ship then relays this information to the authorities.

Abandon the ship!

This phrase is used when a ship is about to sink. Once the captain has decided that the conditions warrant abandoning the ship, he sends the order to abandon the ship. Now all crew members have to get off the ship as soon as possible because it is likely to sink soon.

It is important to know that the distress signal to abandon the ship is not given lightly; the captain must have a good reason to give it. Once this order is given, crew members must abandon the ship as soon as possible. They are only allowed to take what they need to survive, e.g. B. their life jackets but have to leave their bags behind.

Once everyone has left the ship, someone needs to radio the situation to the authorities. The person making the report should also indicate whether there are any passengers on board the ship who require assistance.


When you hear these phrases, it’s important that you know what they mean and what you need to do next. In an emergency, every moment counts. The quicker you and your crew members react to a situation, the greater your chances of survival.

Even if you don’t understand what’s happening, don’t hesitate to act on these signals. Once you are safely aboard another ship, you can request reconnaissance. The most important thing is that you remain calm and use the means at your disposal to get help.



Related Articles