Chapter 1. General 17
Chapter 2. The division 19
Chapter 3. Division formations 20
Chapter 4. The squadron 31
Chapter 5. Tactical signals 33


2101. Formations.-It is essential that motor torpedo boat formations be small, wieldy, flexible, and as simple as possible. Difficulties in signaling and communications and the desirability of eliminating radio and signal communications, insofar as possible, make it mandatory that follow the leader tactics be used at all times whenever practicable.

2102. Personnel.-In order to operate effectively and efficiently in formation, it is necessary that motor torpedo beat personnel in boats following the leader, be indoctrinated in sensing or anticipating the desires or movements of the group leader and cooperate with their own actions and movements, to the fullest extent in attaining the objective. It will not always be possible, particularly at night, for the group leader to signal or make known his desires to the boats astern, before emergency action is required. For this reason, personnel in vessels astern must be strictly alert to all changes in conditions which may be encountered ahead and take appropriate action whenever the necessity therefor is indicated.

2103. Station keeping.-Every effort must be made to maintain the proper position in formation in order to facilitate visual signals and rapid maneuvering. When changes in formation are indicated, new positions should be attained, as expeditiously as possible. The success of many missions undertaken by motor torpedo boats will depend to a great degree on position. In order to gain favorable position and launch effective attacks,

ships' movements must conform to a definite plan. No plan can be effectively carried out without absolute coordination between the various units. It is therefore essential that units expeditiously attain and maintain their proper relative positions at all times.

2104. Division or group leader.-In maneuvering the unit or changing the formation, the group leader should at all times maneuver the leading boat to assist those astern in attaining and maintaining position. For example, decreasing speed or changing course of the leading boat will often permit an expeditious reforming of the disposition, whereas if the leader continued on a constant speed and course, boats astern might be long delayed in reaching their positions, although proceeding at maximum speed. In addition, the group leader must be fully aware of the capabilities of the boats astern and favor them accordingly. For example, some boats may be slower than others, due to condition of bottoms, machinery defects, etc.

2105. Standard distances, intervals and speeds.-No standard distances or intervals such as close, standard or double are prescribed in motor torpedo boats other than those indicated on the diagrams. The distances and intervals shown on the diagrams are within the limits of rapid signalling and deployment from cruising formations. Appropriate signals are provided for closing or opening these distances. No standard speeds are prescribed, as the necessity for constant changing of speeds due to character of the mission, state of sea, etc., and the ability of motor torpedo boats to readily conform to the speed changes of the group leader, make standard speed designations unnecessary.

2106. Order of ships-guide.-The initial order of ships in a division formation will normally be by hull numbers, although after execution of certain maneuvers in the manner prescribed, the order will not be maintained nor is it expected to maintain the initial order. Where reference is made to even numbered boats and odd numbered boats, position in division or squadron column counting the leading vessel in column as number 1, is referred to. In all formations the guide will always be the division, group or squadron leader. Initial order of divisions in a squadron formation, exclusive of the squadron commander's division, will normally be with the lower numbered division to

the left or in the van. It is not expected that this order will be maintained after execution of certain maneuvers.

2107. Seniority.-In case the division leader leaves the formation, or is a casualty, the next senior boat in the division will automatically take charge of the formation and, if practicable, take the leading position regardless of previous position. If the squadron leader leaves the formation or is a casualty the senior division commander will take charge.

2108. Deployment.-Deployed formations are unwieldy and hence difficult to maneuver. Therefore, a flexible and wieldy formation should be maintained whenever practicable, until the approximate deployment course is reasonably certain. The formation should be led to this course by the division or group leader and then deployed ahead.

2109. Retirement.-Vessels of a single division, in retiring from an attack, will turn away from the center of the deployed formation unless otherwise directed. Whether to retire as a unit or to retire individually will usually depend on circumstances. If conditions warrant, boats should reform on the leader after retirement. Upon retirement all vessels should be extremely alert for signals from leader. In retiring from a simultaneous attack made by one or more squadrons, divisions will retire as a unit away from the center of the deployed formation, if practicable.


2201. A division of motor torpedo boats is normally composed of three boats, but due to absent vessels, may be composed of only one or two boats. In temporary organizations it may sometimes consist of four boats. If more than that number are assigned to a mission, they should operate as separate two or three boat divisions.

2202. Division formation.-The basic formation for motor torpedo boats is the division formation. From this basis formation all maneuvers and evolutions follow. There are three division formations:

(1) Division column.
(2) Division V.
(3) Division echelon.

Drawing showing Division in Column, Division Vee, Division Left Eschelon, Division Right Eschelon


2301. Uses of division column.-This formation is normally only used when entering or leaving harbor or passing through restricted waters, especially when there is no danger of attack by the enemy. Division Column should not be used when armament is in the ready condition. The disadvantages of this formation are:

(1) Division is vulnerable to enfilade fire by straffing aircraft or shore batteries.
(2) Rapid deployment ahead is difficult.
(3) Vessels astern are endangered by accidental discharge of ready guns and depth charges on vessels ahead.

Unless otherwise directed it will be standard practice to form division column without signal upon getting underway.

2302. How formed.-All vessels form in designated order astern of leader on a relative bearing of 180° (see Art. 2202),- with approximately 50 yards (two boat lengths) between boats.

2303. Maneuvering the division column.-The division column may be maneuvered by a simple change of the course by column movement following the leader or by simultaneous ships turns on turn or deployment signals.

2304. Deploying from division column.-Normally the division will not be in a column formation when required to deploy. In cases of emergency, however, it may become necessary. In deploying ahead the division leader maintains course and slows down as necessary to expedite forming the line. Odd numbered boats in column, should sheer out to starboard and even numbered boats to port, increasing speed as necessary to come into line abreast of division leader with about 100 yards four boat lengths) of open water between adjacent boats. In deployment to right or left, the division leader swings to deployment course immediately and all vessels change course simultaneously in the direction of deployment, increasing speed and opening up as necessary to form on line with division leader.

Deployment Ahead From Column



Deployment To The Right Flank From Column

2305. To form echelon from division column.-Division leader maintains course and speed except changes both when necessary, to permit expeditious forming. All vessels astern sheer out simultaneously on the designated quarter of the leader to attain proper position relative to leader.


Movement Left and Right from column to Echelon.

2306. To form V formation from division column.-The division leader maintains course and decreases speed as necessary to permit expeditious forming. Even numbered boats in column sheer out to port and odd numbered boats sheer out to starboard, increasing speed and changing course as necessary, to reach proper stations expeditiously.

From division column to Vee formation.



2307. Uses of division V formation.-This formation is the one most commonly used in motor torpedo boat operations. It is wieldy, compact, facilitates signalling and station keeping, permits rapid deployment, unmasks gun batteries and reduces chances of enfilade. It also offers an excellent defense against aircraft when distances between boats are increased.

Countermarch left from Vee Formation

2308. How formed.-The division leader is ahead and in the center; the other boats on each quarter of the leader, 45° to 60° abaft the beam, distance 75 yards. If four boats are present the fourth boat normally takes appropriate station on the port quarter of the division leader but he may be stationed on either quarter. When reforming the V from another formation

(as from division echelon) the fourth boat will normally remain on the quarter where he happens to be. (See art. 2202.)

2309. Maneuvering the division V formation.-In changes of course by column movement the leader simply changes to the new course and slows as necessary, to permit other boats to follow around and regain their relative positions to maintain the formation. Vessels astern increase or decrease speed as required to expeditiously regain their proper positions. Whenever,

Deployment Ahead and Deployment 30 degrees to Right.

practicable, large changes of course by column movement, except in countermarching, should be made by two or more course changes.

2310. Countermarching in division V formation.-To countermarch from the V formation all units turn simultaneously 180° to the right or left as designated by signal from the leader. When on the reverse course, the division leader cuts between the other two boats to retake proper position in the V formation. If four boats are present, the fourth boat, after completion of the 180° turn and when on the reverse course;

drops back to resume normal station, as the division leader cuts through.

2311 (a). Deployment ahead from division V formation.-Deployments from this formation will normally be ahead. The leader will usually, on the approach, maneuver the formation by follow the leader tactics to the deployment course. Upon signal to deploy, the boats astern increase speed, open up slightly and come into line abreast of the leader. Distance between adjacent boats is about 100 yards (approximately four boat lengths). To deploy within 30° of ahead, the leader comes to the deployment course immediately, the other boats increase

Deployment more than 30 degrees right or left from Vee formation.

speed, open up as necessary and come into line on either side of the leader.

2312 (b). Deployments right or left from division V formation.-Deployments greater than 30° from ahead should normally not be necessary except for emergencies or surprise encounters, where the enemy suddenly is sighted on or abaft the beam. These deployments are accomplished as follows: Leader holds course until other boats start to turn, then swings immediately to deployment course, maintaining maximum speed. The boat on the flank in direction of deployment turns sharply swinging past the deployment course then back to parallel the leader, in order to open out and make sea room for center

boat. The boat on the flank away from direction of deployment turns immediately to the deployment course, increases speed and cuts under stern of the leader to come into line.

2313. To form column formation from division V formation.-The division leader maintains course and speed except to change

Column from Vee

either as necessary, to facilitate expeditious forming. The nearest boat on port quarter falls in next, astern of leader, and the nearest boat on starboard quarter falls in as third vessel in column. If four boats are present the fourth boat takes station as last in column.

2314. To form echelon from division V formation.-The division leader maintains course and speed, except changes either as necessary to facilitate rapid forming. The vessel nearest the division leader on that flank opposite to which the echelon is to be formed changes course and speed as necessary to cut across stern of leader and take position as next astern of leader. The vessel nearest to the division leader on

Left echelon from Vee and Right echelon from Vee.

the quarter on which the echelon is to be formed changes course slightly away from leader to fall back on distance to take position as number three in the echelon formation. The fourth boat in the division falls back in proper position if already on the proper quarter of the division leader. If on the opposite quarter, he changes course and speed as necessary to take position as last boat in the echelon.



2315. Uses.-The division echelon formation may be employed under the following circumstances:

(1) When cruising off shore and position is doubtful, to keep vessels astern disposed to seaward of leader and more free of probable obstructions.

Going from echelon to line accross.

(2) In heavy weather, to keep vessels disposed to windward, so personnel may look to leeward for signals and facilitate station keeping.

(3) At night, prior to making contact with the enemy in order that leader may keep the majority of vessels disposed on his probably disengaged side.

(4) When conducting an attack under cover of a smoke screen.

It has the disadvantages of being more unyieldy, subject to enfilade, and does not facilitate rapid signalling in good weather.

2316. How formed.-Vessels form on the designated quarter of the leader from between 45° to 60° abaft the beam, distance 75 yards ( three boat lengths) between adjacent vessels. (See art. 2202.)

2317. Maneuvering the division echelon.-Normally large changes of course by column movement followed the leader, should not be attempted in this formation. If a large change is necessary

Deployment to right or left flank from right echelon formation.

it should be made by appropriate turn or deployment signals. However, if a large change is made by the leader without such signal, vessels should change course and speed as necessary to regain proper positions in the echelon.

2318 (a). Deploying ahead from division echelon.-Before deploying from echelon, the division leader will normally maneuver the formation to the deployment course so deployment may be made ahead. In deploying ahead from division echelon, the division leader maintains course and slows down as necessary to expedite forming of the line. Vessels astern, increase speed

and sheer out as necessary to come up in line abreast of division leader, with approximately 100 yards (four boat lengths) between adjacent boats when in line.

2319 (b). Deploying to the flank from echelon formation.-In case of emergency it may be necessary to deploy toward the flank, in which case upon appropriate deploy signal the division leader increases or decreases speed and changes to the deployment

Column of Vees with Squadron Commanders' division followed by Low Number Division, Next Low Numbered Division

course immediately, opening out in so doing. Other vessels turn simultaneously and maneuver to get into line with approximately 100 yards (four boat lengths) between adjacent boats.


2401. A squadron of motor torpedo boats is normally composed of two or more divisions. The squadron leader is also one of the division leaders.

2402. Squadron formations.-Squadron formations are necessary for the following purposes:

(1) Cruising.

(2) Operating with other units of the fleet.

(3) Leading the squadron to an attack position. They are normally only used in daylight operations.

2403. Types of squadron formations.-There are three basic squadron formations:

(1) Column of, V's.

(2) Vee of V's.

(3) Echelon of V's.

Vee of Vees and Right Echelon of Vees

2404. Maneuvering the squadron.-All maneuvers and evolutions prescribed for the division formation are applicable to the squadron formation and are accomplished in the same manner, using as units the divisions, instead of individual boats. While in any of the basic squadron formations, the divisions may be formed into any of the division formations. For example, while the squadron is in an echelon of vees, the divisions may be formed in division echelon, thereby placing all boats in one long line of bearing. Likewise when the squadron is in a column of V's the divisions may be formed in division column formation, thereby placing all boats in one long column astern. Appropriate flag signals are provided for forming the three squadron formations. The disposition of the individual boats in the divisions astern will be made by following the disposition of the boats in the squadron leader's division.

2405. Deployment from squadron formation.-Generally the divisions will be released to deploy separately prior to reaching an attack position. If it becomes necessary to deploy from squadron formation, as might be the case when conducting a massed attack by several squadrons on an enemy formation, or when attacking under cover of a smoke screen, deployment is effected in the same manner as by individual divisions. The squadron should first be formed in a formation suitable to deployment such as a V of V's or an echelon of V's. On the signal to deploy, the squadron leader turns to the deployment course and deploys his division. The division leaders open out as necessary to get the required sea room and maneuver to deploy their divisions on a line with the squadron commanders division. If not released prior to reaching the attack point, division commanders will normally take charge of their divisions and deploy without further signal when the squadron commander is observed to deploy his division. In retiring the retirement will usually be by divisions away from the center.


2501 (a). Hand and arm signals.-Hand and arm signals are provided for the more important maneuvers in case of emergency, when flags are not readily available or are lost overboard. They serve as a rapid means of signalling when entering or leaving harbors or for rapid dispersion of boats from a small compact formation. The arm signal is executed as soon as it is observed and is passed on by vessels nearest or adjacent to the

Arm signal Meaning Remarks
Arm held vertically upward, palm aft. Slow and open up or I am decreasing speed. Hold arm in position until formation is opened up as desired.
Hold arm in position until repeated by next astern.
Arm extended vertically upward, fist clenched and brought rapidly downward several times as though tooting a whistle. I am increasing speed or close up on me. Make signal until repeated by next astern.
Repeat signal until vessels are closed in as desired.
Both arms extended upward and hands clasped together as though shaking hands. Division commanders or commanding officers take charge.  
Arm extended upward, rotated in circles several times and then brought down pointing astern. Form division column Repeat several times.
One arm vertical. Other arm extended and brought down several times pointing to quarter on which it is desired echelon be formed. Form division echelon Repeat several times.
Both arms extended upward and palms of hands clapped together several times after which one arm is brought down in direction of deployment. Deploy in direction indicated. Repeat several times.
Both arms extended upward at an angle of 45° with body and then brought down in the direction of the stern. Form division V formation. Repeat several times.
Both arms held vertically upward fists clenched and arms worked downward and upward several times in a rapid manner. Attack with torpedos, depth charges or commence firing guns as appropriate, depending on target. 
Run index finger of hand around throat several times. Shut off engines.  
Both arms held vertically upward and brought down extended horizontally in opposite directions. Spread from 300-500 yards distance or interval on present bearing from leader and zigzag if necessary. Repeat several times.
Arm held vertically upward and rotated in sweeping circles. Scatter and maneuver to avoid gunfire or aircraft attacks in accordance with scatter plan. 
Both arms held vertically upward and waved across each other to form an X Disregard movements of leader. Repeat several times.
division leader, to those further away. Personnel should be familiar with hand and arm signals as well as flag signals.

2501 (b). Flag signals.-Flag signals in addition to arm signals are provided for maneuvering the division or squadron. Flags used have been selected for their distinctive colors and patterns. They are not direct reading and therefore the meanings must be memorized. The flag signals are repeated as soon as observed by vessels astern of leader. Vessels nearest the leader are responsible for relaying the signal to those further away. The signal of execution will be a separate, sharp and distinct movement of cutting the flag down out of sight. The signal of execution should be repeated by vessels nearest the leader for the benefit of those further away.

Flag Signal Meaning Remarks
Division Held vertically Form division V formation. Hold stationary.
Do Waved and pointed toward the stern. Form division column formation. Wave in a fore and aft plane.
Do Waved and pointed toward the starboard side. Form division echelon to starboard. Wave in an athwartships plane.
Do Waved and pointed toward the port side. Form division echelon to port. Do.
Turn Held at an angle of 45° toward the direction of the turn. Boats turn simultaneously in direction flag is held following movements of leader. Hold flag stationary.
Do Waved and pointed toward the starboard side. Countermarch to right. Wave in an athwartships plane.
Do Waved and pointed toward the port side. Countermarch to left. Do.
Victor Held vertically Deploy ahead Hold stationary.
Do Waved and pointed toward the starboard side. Deploy to the right flank. Wave flag in an athwartships plane.
Do Waved and pointed toward the port side. Deploy to the left flank. Do.
Baker Held vertically Fire torpedoes Hold stationary.
Do Waved and pointed in direction of contact. Attack with depth charges.  
Option Held vertically Lay smoke Do.
Do Waved in a fore and aft plane. Scatter in accordance with plan. To be executed on sight.
Do Waved in an athwartships plane. Spread accordance with plan on present bearing from leader. Do.
Flag Signal Meaning Remarks
Negative Held vertically Disregard my movements Execute on sight.
Do Waved from side to side. Disregard last signal or cease firing. Do.
Zero Held vertically Form V of V's Div. leaders repeat.
One do Form column of V's Do.
Five do Form echelon of V's to right. Do.
Nine do Form echelon of V's to left. Do.

2501 (c). Light signals.

(1) Daytime uses.-Light signals are normally not used in the daytime for maneuvering purposes, due to the lack of adequate signalling apparatus, difficulties of reading light signals, and the unstability of the boat. However, when the division or squadron is dispersed as in a spread or scatter formation, the following light signal will be used to reform the division or squadron. This signal will be passed on by boats nearest leader to those further away.

Signal Meaning Remarks
Several long flashes Close in on me to within flag signalling distance. To be made on searchlight. If directed at division leaders reform on squadron leader.

(2) Night uses.-The following night signals may be used. They will be made by the leader only and will not be passed on or answered. They will be repeated twice by the leader and sent only when absolutely necessary and when their use will not disclose the position of the unit. They will be sent by blinker gun or small screened flashlight.

Signal Meaning
B Attack.
C Close me for verbal instructions.
I Increase speed.
D Decrease speed.
R Column right.
L Column left.
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