You have probably seen lights in the distance that move along the waterways and wondered what they were. You find out quickly after purchasing a boat just what these lights are for. Below you will find a brief history and outline of what navigations lights are used for in the boating world.

History of Navigation Lights

The first use of colored navigation lanterns began in 1848 in Great Britain. This was a color-coded way of determining the location of a vessel, orientation to approach, and way of determining how to avoid a nighttime collision. Loss of life, ships, and merchandise were common in rough, foggy waters off the coastlines before this simple process of visual location demonstration began. The use of white lanterns off the American coasts began as early as 1828, but the color coding did not happen until the British mandate of 1848.

Who sets the standards?

The International Maritime Organization is the governing body that determines the rules and regulations for navigation lighting on all ships and pleasure craft. Creating and maintaining a uniform method of identifying the presence and orientation of a ship has to be uniform throughout the world for the alert system to work.

White Lights

Vessels that are 12-meters and shorter can display one all-around white light placed on the back or front of the boat. Longer ships must place a white light at the front and one at the back.

Red and Green Lights

The red and green lights will let an oncoming boat know the direction they are going. The red light is always oriented to the port or right side of the boat. The green light is oriented to the starboard or left side of the boat. These lights can be separate units placed on the side, or they can be put on the front centerline of the boat.

LED Lighting Options

Navigation lighting rules and regulations have been maintained for many years. Technological improvements allow for LED versions of these lights to be installed that last longer, burn brighter, and use less energy.

Contact boating parts and accessory specialists like MMI Marine and find out more about boat navigation lighting today!