Piping is an ancient naval tradition. It involves the blowing of a very shrill metal whistle (a boatswain's call) to relay orders aboard a ship. The sound carries much farther than a human voice. A boatswain's call was recorded in the stores of a 13th century warship; and they are still in use today. The boatswain's call was a badge of rank, as it passed orders. The tradition of piping the side (one of many calls that can be made on a boatswain's call.) is reserved for when Officers of Flag Rank, uniformed members of the Royal Family, commanders of other naval vessels,and foreign naval officers of any rank coming aboard or going ashore ,and when a corpse is coming aboard or going ashore. This call is much different from any other; all others really orders. It is thought that the tradition of piping the side comes from how people would be taken aboard or off a ship it the good old days; they would have been hoisted up the side of the ship. This would have been done by a side party, whose leader (being a boatswain's mate) would carry a boatswain's call in order to tell the side party when to start and stop hauling. After advancements in technology, the side party was no longer needed, only the pipe because at the time of the advancements, they'd been piping for so long they had forgotten why. Boatswain's of then and now carry boatswain's calls and I am proud to carry one myself.