Ship naming conventions

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United States Navy

Within the United States Navy, all ships begin with the designation of USS. This was established by Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt. Originally the designations where:

  • USF (United States Frigate)
  • USFS (United States Flagship)
  • USS (United States Ship)

Of these, only the USS remains in use.

Following the name of the ship, the hull classification and hull number are written in parentheses. If the ship was launched before the hull classification, it is often written with the year of the launch. This helps distinguish different ships with the same name. For example, the Enterprise:

Royal (British) Navy

The names of British ships begin with HMS, standing for Her/His Majesty's Ship.

Canadian Forces Maritime Command (MARCOM)

The names of Canadian ships begin with either HMCS or NCSM-- Her/His Majesty's Canadian Ship and Navire Canadien de Sa Majesté, respectively.