What’s in a Name:Ship Names and Conventions?

What’s in a Name: Ship Names and Conventions?

Shakespeare’s famous remark “What’s in name” doesn’t comply with humans and so doesn’t with ships. They have to be named and recognized because without the names, they shall make the marine world confusing, a total blunder. Any observant person will notice that there are certain prefixes with name of a ship, usually an abbreviation (combination of the first letters of the name).

Let’s discuss some of these abbreviations classified as per different types of ships, the places of origin and use, the type of cargo they carry and thus their relative importance in the marine universe.

According to types of ships:

1>Motor Vehicle or Motor Ship: M.V. or M.S. Forward slashes can be used instead of period signs. These types of ships are run by internal combustion engines or diesel marine engines. They include bulkers, containers and OBOs; etc.

2>S.S.: The ancient steam ships or steam generated ships.

3>M.T.: the motor tanker ships or motor marine vehicles which are tankers as per occupation.

4>R.V.: Research Vehicles;

5>F.V.: Fishing Vehicles;

6>L.B.: The life boats or the boats used during emergencies to save lives from drowning;

7>S.V.: Sailing vehicles or ships which use sails for generating power to run;

8>N.S.: Nuclear ships or ships powered by nuclear energy;

9>F.P.S.O: Floating Production, storage and offloading vehicles

According to regions:

Britain: Battle ships were usually named by class for example, HMS Conqueror, HMS Thunderer, HMS Resolution, HMS Renown

Ships that are grouped together are named with words of same class together. For ex: Lion and Tiger, Courageous and Furious.

Letter classes were used for Destroyers and submarines, for example, “B”CLASS DESTROYERS and “U”CLASS SUBMARINES

Generic classes were usually for some destroyers and cruisers like:
County-class cruisers, Town-class destroyers

Unites States of America: Earlier battleships were named after the states.For example, USS Texas, USS Idaho

Battle cruisers were named after territories, USS Alaska, USS Hawaii

Cruisers were named after cities like, USS San Francisco, USS Atlanta

Destroyers are often named after naval personnel like, USS Cole, USS The Sullivans

Submarines are named after fish like, USS Nautilus, USS Cole

In Japan: They follow typical martial art,nature, mythical creatures and weapon based theme to name their ships. Battleships were named after traditional provinces of Japan like Fuso, Kaga, Yamato.

Aircraft carriers were named after flying mythical creatures like Soryu (blue-grey dragon), Shokaku (heavenly crane),Taiho (great phoenix)

Light cruisers were named after rivers like Kuma,Mogami.

Heavy destroyers were named after natural phenomenon like Kazi(wind),Ami(rain),Yuki(snow) whereas light destroyers were named after trees Momo(fir tree),Matsu(pine tree),Kashi(oak tree)

Many types of ships like American PT boats and German U-boats are known by hull numbers officially. It is very common for ships to have common names that’s where disambiguation comes into scene. For example, HMS Vanguard(1787) HMS Vanguard(1748)

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