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Ship prefix

From Academic Kids

A ship prefix is a combination of letters, usually abbreviations, used in front of the name of a civilian or naval ship.

Prefixes for civilian vessels may either identify the type of propulsion, such as "SS" for steamship, or purpose, such as "RV" for research vessel. Civilian prefixes are often used inconsistently, and frequently not at all. Sometimes a slash is used to separate the letters, as in "M/S".

Naval prefixes came into use as abbreviations for longer titles, such as "His/Her Majesty's Ship" in the Royal Navy, abbreviated "H.M.S" and then "HMS". Earlier uses often included the type of vessel, as for instance "U.S.F." ("United States Frigate") for frigates of the United States Navy. Today the common practice is to use a single prefix for all warships of a nation's navy, and other prefixes for auxiliaries and ships of allied services, such as coast guards.

The use of ship prefixes is not universal; in particular neither the Third Reich's Kriegsmarine nor the Imperial Japanese Navy used ship prefixes. Some English-language writers use prefixes like "DKM" (for "Deutsche Kriegsmarine") and "HIJMS" (for "His Imperial Japanese Majesty's Ship") or "IJN" (for "Imperial Japanese Navy", a translation of 大日本帝国海軍 dai-nippon teikoku kaigun) for consistency with "HMS" and "USS". Other writers follow the practice of the navy and omit any prefix.

From the 20th century onwards, most navies identify ships by hull numbers — identification codes typically painted on the side of the ship. Each navy has its own system: the United States Navy uses hull classification symbols, and the Royal Navy and other navies of Europe and the Commonwealth use pennant numbers.

Table of ship prefixes

This table lists both current and historical prefixes known to have been used.

  Country   Service   Prefix   Meaning
generic all DSV Deep Submergence Vessel
generic all MS Motor Ship
generic all MSY Motor Sailing Yacht
generic all MT Motor Tanker
generic all MV Motor Vessel
generic all NS Nuclear Ship
generic all PS Paddle Steamer
generic all RV Research Vessel
generic all SS Steamship
generic all SV Sailing Vessel
generic all TS Turbine Steamer
Argentina Argentine Navy ARA Armada de la Republica Argentina
Australia Royal Australian Navy HMAS His/Her Majesty's Australian Ship
Bahamas Bahamian Defense Force HMBS His/Her Majesty's Bahamian Ship
Bangladesh Bangladesh Navy BNS Bangladesh Naval Ship
Barbados Barbadan Defence Force HMBS His/Her Majesty's Barbadian Ship
Belgium Belgian Navy BNS Belgium Naval Ship (NATO prefix)
Canada Canadian Forces Maritime Command HMCS His/Her Majesty's Canadian Ship
Canada Canadian Coast Guard CCGS Canadian Coast Guard Ship
Canada Canadian Coast Guard CCGC Canadian Coast Guard Cutter
Colombia Armada Nacional ARC Armada de la Republica de Colombia
Confederate States of America Confederate States Navy CSS Confederate States Ship
Denmark Royal Danish Navy HDMS (Danish: KDM) His/Her Danish Majesty's Ship (Danish: Kongelige Danske Marine)
Ecuador ?? BAE Buque de la Armada de Ecuador
Estonia Estonian Navy ENS (Estonian: EML) Estonian Naval Ship (NATO designation)
Estonia Estonian Coast Guard ECGS Estonian Coast Guard Ship (NATO designation)
Fiji ?? RFNS Republic of Fiji Naval Ship
Finland Finnish Navy FNS Finnish Navy Ship
France French Navy FS French Ship (NATO designation); France does not use prefixes internally
German Empire Kaiserliche Marine SM U-## Seiner Majestät Unterseeboot
German Empire Kaiserliche Marine SMS Seiner Majestät Schiff
Germany (Third Reich) Kriegsmarine (no prefix; some authors use "DKM" for "Deutsche Kriegsmarine")
Germany Bundesmarine FGS Federal German Ship (NATO designation)
Greece Hellenic Navy HS Hellenic Ship (NATO designation)
Guyana ?? GDFS Guyanan Defense Forces Ship
India Indian Navy (pre-Republic) HMIS His/Her Majesty's Indian Ship
India Indian Navy INS Indian Naval Ship
Indonesia Indonesian Navy KRI Kapal Republik Indonesia (Republic of Indonesia Ship)
Ireland, Republic of Irish Naval Service Long Éireannach — Irish ship
Israel Israeli Navy INS Israeli Naval Ship
Italy, Kingdom (until 1946) Regia Marina RN Regia Nave -- Royal Ship
Italy, Kingdom (until 1946) Regia Marina RS Reale Sottomarino -- Royal Submarine
Italy, Republic (since 1946) Marina Militare NMM Nave Marina Militare -- Navy Ship
Japan Imperial Japanese Navy (no prefix; some authors use "HIJMS" for "His Imperial Japanese Majesty's Ship")
Japan (after WWII) Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force JDS JMSDF Defense Ship
Kenya ? KNS Kenyan Naval Ship
Latvia Latvian Navy LVS Latvian Ship (NATO designation)
Lithuania Lithuanian Navy LNS Lithuanian Ship (NATO designation)
Royal Malaysian Navy KD Kapal Di-Raja — Royal Ship
Netherlands Royal Netherlands Navy HNLMS (Dutch: Hr.Ms. or Zr.Ms.) His/Her Netherlands Majesty's Ship (Dutch: Harer Majesteits or Zijner Majesteits)
New Zealand Royal New Zealand Navy HMNZS His/Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship
Nigeria ? NNS Nigerian Naval Ship
Norway Royal Norwegian Navy HNoMS (Norwegian: KNM) His Norwegian Majesty's Ship (Norwegian: Kongelige Norske Marine)
Norway Norwegian Coast Guard KV Kystvakt
Oman ? SNV Sultanate Naval Vessel
Pakistan Pakistani Navy PNS Pakistani Naval Ship
Papua New Guinea ? HMPNGS His/Her Majesty's Papua New Guinea Ship
Peru Peruvian Navy BAP Buque Armada Peruana
Philippines Philippine Navy BRP Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas
Poland Polish Navy ORP Polish Republic Naval Ship
(Polish: Okręt Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej)
Portugal Marinha de Guerra Portuguesa NRP Portuguese Republic Ship (Navio da República Portuguesa)
Saudi Arabia Saudi Navy HMS His Majesty's Ship — the same as the Royal Navy
Singapore Republic of Singapore Navy RSS Republic of Singapore Ship
South Africa South African Navy SAS South African Ship
Spain Armada Espanola SPS Spanish Naval Ship
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Navy SLNS Sri Lanka Naval Ship
Sweden Royal Swedish Navy HMS His/Her Majesty's Ship — the same as the Royal Navy
Taiwan (Republic of China) Republic of China Navy ROCS Republic of China Ship
Thailand Royal Thai Navy HTMS His Thai Majesty's Ship
Turkey Turkish Navy TCG Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Gemisi
Trinidad & Tobago ? TTS Trinidad & Tobago Ship
United Kingdom Ships carrying mail RMS Royal Mail Steamer
United Kingdom Royal Fleet Auxiliary RFA Royal Fleet Auxiliary
United Kingdom Hospital ships HMHS His/Her Majesty's Hospital Ship
United Kingdom Royal Navy HMS His/Her Majesty's Ship/Submarine
United Kingdom British Army HMAV His/Her Majesty's Army Vessel (not currently in use)
United Kingdom Royal Air Force HMAFV His/Her Majesty's Air Force Vessel (not currently in use)
United Kingdom Royal Navy HMY His/Her Majesty's Yacht (not currently in use)
United Kingdom Royal Navy HBMS His/Her Britannic Majesty's Ship (archaic)
United Kingdom Royal Navy HMT His/Her Majesty's Tug or Troopship
United Kingdom Government research ships RRS Royal Research Ship
United States U.S. Army USAV United States Army Vessel
United States (obsolete) U.S. Navy USF United States Frigate
United States (obsolete) U.S. Navy USFS United States Flagship
United States U.S. Navy USS United States Ship
United States U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command USNS United States Naval Ship
United States U.S. Coast Guard USCGC United States Coast Guard Cutter
Uruguay Uruguay Navy ROU Republica Oriental del Uruguay
Venezuela Venezuelan Navy ARV Armada Republica Venezolana


In the Royal Netherlands Navy, "HNLMS" is the prefix in English, a translation of the Dutch original "Hr.Ms." or "Zr.Ms.". "Hr.Ms." should preferably not be used English-language documents; nevertheless it is often seen on the World Wide Web. Until the moment a Dutch naval ship officially enters active service in the fleet, the ship's name is used without the prefix.

In the United States Navy, all prefixes other than "USS," "USNS" and "USCGC" were obsoleted in 1901 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed into law a bill fixing American naval nomenclature.

A United States ship that has not yet been commissioned in the Navy does not hold the title of USS, it holds the title of PCU (Pre-commissioned unit). For example, say a shipyard is building a new aircraft carrier:—the Neversail. From the date the keel is laid to the date it is commissioned, it is called the PCU Neversail. Only after it enters active service in the fleet and is commissioned will it be referred to as the USS Neversail. In Australia, the prefix NUSHIP is used to denote ships that have yet to be commissioned into the fleet.

Note that while calling a US ship "the USS Neversail" may make grammatical sense, the preliminary article "the" is deprecated by nearly all style guides. Its British equivalent ("the HMS Neversail") is also deprecated, since "the Her Majesty's Ship" would be grammatically incorrect.

See also the WikiProject Ships.

External links

pl:Skróty przed nazwami okrętów

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