List of ship names of the Royal Navy
This is an alphabetical list of the names of all ships that have been in service with the Royal Navy, or with predecessor fleets formally in the service of the Kingdom of England or the Commonwealth of England. The list also includes fictional vessels which have prominently featured in literature about the Royal Navy. Names are traditionally re-used over the years, and have been carried by more than one ship.
Altogether over 13,000 ships have been in service with the Royal Navy.
Unlike many other naval services, the Royal Navy designates certain types of shore establishment (e.g. barracks, naval air stations and training establishments) as "ships" and names them accordingly. These establishments are often referred to in service slang as stone frigates.
Lists of ship names
Due to the large number of names the list has been split into smaller lists:
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (A)
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (B)
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (C)
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (D–F)
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (G–H)
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (I–L)
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (M–N)
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (O–Q)
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (R–T)
- List of ship names of the Royal Navy (U–Z)
By types of ship
- List of aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy
- List of amphibious warfare ships of the Royal Navy
- List of pre-dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy
- List of dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy
- List of battlecruisers of the Royal Navy
- List of bomb vessels of the Royal Navy
- List of cruiser classes of the Royal Navy
- List of destroyers of the Royal Navy
- List of fast patrol boats of the Royal Navy
- List of frigates of the Royal Navy
- List of corvettes and sloops of the Royal Navy
- List of gunboats and gunvessels of the Royal Navy
- List of gun-brigs of the Royal Navy
- List of ironclads of the Royal Navy
- List of monitors of the Royal Navy
- List of mine countermeasure vessels of the Royal Navy (includes minesweepers and mine hunters)
- List of Royal Prison ship names
- List of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship names
- List of ships of the line of the Royal Navy
- List of submarines of the Royal Navy
- List of survey vessels of the Royal Navy
- List of Royal Navy shore establishments
Fictional RN ship names
Many novels and films about the Royal Navy feature fictional ships, but most use real names. This is a list of fictional names of note. Where real ship names are used fictionally, there is a link to the actual ships using that name.
Fictional wooden RN ships
- Argonaute (from Colours Aloft by Alexander Kent)
- Atropos (from Hornblower and the Atropos by C. S. Forester)
- Bellipotent (from Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville)
- Caligula (from A Ship of the Line by C. S. Forester)
- Clam (from Hornblower in the West Indies by C. S. Forester)
- Clorinda (from Hornblower in the West Indies by C. S. Forester)
- Crab (from Hornblower in the West Indies by C. S. Forester)
- Harvey and Moth (Bomb ketches) (from The Commodore by C. S. Forester)
- Flame (from Lord Hornblower by C. S. Forester)
- Friday (from the 1970s Urban myth about a fictional HMS Friday)
- Harpy (from Mr Midshipman Easy by Captain Frederick Marryat)
- Hotspur (from Hornblower and the Hotspur by C. S. Forester)
- Justinian (from Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester)
- Lotus (from The Commodore by C. S. Forester)
- Lydia (from The Happy Return by C. S. Forester)
- Nightingale (from Hornblower and the Atropos by C. S. Forester)
- Nonsuch (from The Commodore by C. S. Forester)
- Phoebe (from Hornblower in the West Indies by C. S. Forester)
- Pinafore (from the operetta H.M.S. Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan)
- Polychrest (from Post Captain by Patrick O'Brian)
- Porta Coeli (from Lord Hornblower by C. S. Forester)
- Pucelle (from Sharpe's Trafalgar by Bernard Cornwell)
- Pluto (from A Ship of the Line by C. S. Forester)
- Renown (from Lieutenant Hornblower by C. S. Forester)
- Roebuck (from Hornblower in the West Indies by C. S. Forester)
- Sophie (from Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. Based on the actual HM Sloop Speedy)
- Surprise (from HMS Surprise (novel) by Patrick O'Brian. Fictional ship based on the actual frigate HMS Surprise)
- Sutherland (from A Ship of the Line & Flying Colours by C. S. Forester)
- Themis (from Under Enemy Colors by S. Thomas Russell)
- Venus: (from the scatalogical drinking song "Good Ship Venus". Although this usage is apocryphal, the ship's name HMS Venus has been used five times by the RN between 1758 and 1972).
- Witch of Endor (from Flying Colours by C. S. Forester)
In films and television and radio
- Avenger (from 1962 Peter Ustinov/Terence Stamp film Billy Budd)
- Defiant (from 1962 Alec Guinness/Dirk Bogarde film HMS Defiant)
- Bounty (from 1962 Marlon Brando/Trevor Howard film Mutiny on the Bounty, a novel-based version of the HMS Bounty story. The replica built for the film was lost in 2012)
- Venus (from 1962 Kenneth Williams/Bernard Cribbins comedy film Carry On Jack)
- Indefatigable and Hotspur (from 1999 Ioan Gruffudd TV Series Hornblower; HMS Indefatigable played by replica frigate Grand Turk; HMS Hotspur played by Earl of Pembroke)
- Surprise (from 2003 Russell Crowe film Master and Commander; played by replica ship HMS Surprise )
- Dauntless and Interceptor (from the 2003 Johnny Depp film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. A fictional HMS Dauntless is the 'flagship of the Royal Navy'. HMS Interceptor - described as the 'fastest vessel in the Navy' - is played by the replica ship Lady Washington). Later Dauntless has been replaced by Endeavour, the vessel that became a new flagship of the Royal Navy.
- Providence (from the 2011 Johnny Depp film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; played by replica ship HMS Surprise)
HMS Travail from the Poldark Series 1970 and 2014 to 2019 Tv series
Fictional metal RN ships
- HMS Clampherdown (from The Ballad of the "Clampherdown" by Rudyard Kipling (1892); satirising the Admiral-class battleships HMS Camperdown and Benbow)
- HMS Thunder Child (an "Ironclad torpedo ram" from The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (1898))
- The original 1920s edition of the H.P.Gibson naval boardgame Dover Patrol used a number of real RN Ship names, but generally attached them to different ship classes. Thus the "Flagships" were H.M.S. Nelson and Drake, and the "Super Dreadnoughts" were H.M.S. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India, but few of these resembled the actual ships with the same names in the drawings used on the playing pieces. The "Dreadnoughts" were given all new 'County' names: H.M.S. Surrey, Middlesex, Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the "Battle Cruisers" had 'Town' names: H.M.S. London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. "Light Cruisers" had animal names: Lion, Tiger, Panther, Greyhound, Antelope, Zebra, Viper and Vixen; "Destroyers" had 'Bird' names: Albatross, Eagle, Hawk, Heron, Kingfisher, Seagull, Raven and Vulture, and "Auxiliary Cruisers" were given insect names: Ant, Bee, Firefly, Gnat, Grasshopper, Hornet, Mosquito and Wasp. In the revised edition of the game published after WWII, the "Flagships" and "Vice Flagships" were unnamed, but all the other names shown above were retained, including the four wholly fictional County names given to the "Battleships" (reclassified from "Dreadnoughts").
- HMS Charybdis ("third-class cruiser"); also "H M Battlecruiser Leopard" and "her attendant light cruiser Penzance", (from the 1931 novel Brown on Resolution by C. S. Forester)
- HMS Rutland ("Second-class cruiser") and HMS Leopard ("Armoured Cruiser") in the 1935 John Mills film Brown on Resolution; played by C-class cruiser: HMS Curacoa, Destroyer Leader: HMS Broke and Leander-class cruiser: HMS Neptune.
In WWII novels
- HMS Antigone, a fictional Leander-class cruiser from The Cruiser by Warren Tute
- HMS Apache is a fictional Tribal-class destroyer in the short story Gold From Crete by C. S. Forester
- HMS Artemis (from The Ship by C. S. Forester; inspired by Arethusa-class cruiser: HMS Penelope)
- HMS Conqueror is a fictional battleship frequently referred to in the novel The Destroyers by Douglas Reeman; she is clearly based on HMS Hood
- HMS Dipper and HMS Winger were fictional Kingfisher-class corvettes in the stories East Coast Corvette (1943) and Corvette Command (1944), by Nicholas Monsarrat, (republished with H M Corvette as Three Corvettes in 1945)
- HMS Defender, Wrestler, Invader, and Blue Ranger were escort carriers of the 14th Aircraft Carrier Squadron in Alistair MacLean's novel HMS Ulysses.
- HMS Flower and HMS Compass Rose were fictional Flower-class corvettes in the short story H M Corvette (1942) and the novel The Cruel Sea (1951) by Nicholas Monsarrat
- HMS Gladiator is a fictional G-class destroyer in novel Killing Ground by Douglas Reeman.
- HMS Jubilee was a fictional minesweeper in Nicholas Monsarrat's unfinished final book The Master Mariner.
- HMS Lomond is the name of the leader of a flotilla of fictional V and W-class destroyers in the novel The Destroyers by Douglas Reeman
- HMS Marlborough (from the short story "HMS Marlborough Will Enter Harbour" by Nicholas Monsarrat; based on a 1927 sloop)
- HMS Nairn was a fictional River-class frigate in Alistair MacLean's 1955 book HMS Ulysses.
- HMS River, HMS Colony and HMS Saltash were fictional River and Colony-class frigates in H M Frigate (1946) and the novel The Cruel Sea (1951) by Nicholas Monsarrat. (In the 1953 film version HMS Saltash was depicted by Castle-class corvette: HMS Portchester Castle, and hence named Saltash Castle)
- HMS Sirdar fictional S-class destroyer in Alistair MacLean's novels The Guns of Navarone and Force 10 From Navarone
- HMS Ulysses (from HMS Ulysses by Alistair MacLean, based on a fictional Dido-class cruiser)
- HMS Viking and HMS Vectra are two escorts of the 14th Aircraft Carrier Squadron in Alistair MacLean's novel HMS Ulysses
- HMS Vagabond is a fictional V and W-class destroyer in the 1989 novel The Fighting Spirit by Charles Gidley (Wheeler)
- HMS Viperous, a fictional V and W-class destroyer from the novel The Cruel Sea (1953) by Nicholas Monsarrat
- HMS Warlock, HMS Ventnor, HMS Victor, HMS Warden, HMS Waxwing, HMS Whiplash and HMS Whirlpool are members of a flotilla of fictional V and W-class destroyers in the novel The Destroyers by Douglas Reeman
- HMS Wildebeeste is the name of a ship, almost certainly a destroyer, operating alongside the main character's unnamed destroyer in novel Pincher Martin by William Golding
In WWII films
- HMS Torrin (in the 1942 Noël Coward film In Which We Serve; played by destroyer: HMAS Nepal)
- HMS Sea Tiger (Submarine, in 1943 John Mills film We Dive at Dawn; played by Turkish S-class submarines P614 and P615).
- HMS Ballantrae (in the 1951 Trevor Howard film Gift Horse; based on HMS Campbeltown, played by HMS Leamington)
- HMS Stratford, HMS Amesbury, and HMS Cambridge (from 1953 Michael Rennie film Single-Handed or Sailor of the King, (based on the novel Brown on Resolution by C. S. Forester), played by Dido-class cruiser: HMS Cleopatra, Abdiel-class minelayer: HMS Manxman and Town-class cruiser HMS Glasgow)
- HMS Compass Rose and HMS Saltash Castle (in 1953 Jack Hawkins film The Cruel Sea; played by corvettes: HMS Coreopsis and HMS Portchester Castle. In Nicholas Monsarrat's original book, "HMS Saltash" was a larger River-class frigate).
- HMS Rockhampton (in the 1955 John Wayne film The Sea Chase, played by River-class frigate HMCS New Glasgow)
- HMS Solent (the only fictional ship in the 1960 Kenneth More film Sink the Bismarck!; played by Battle-class destroyer: HMS Hogue)
- HMS Aries (fictional Leander-class frigate from The Zhukov Briefing by Antony Trew)
- HMS Beaufort (fictional Type 23 frigate in Mike Lunnon-Wood's novel King's Shilling)
- HMS Belligerent (fictional assault ship from The Zhukov Briefing by Antony Trew)
- HMS Bluewhale (fictional British Porpoise-class submarine from The Zhukov Briefing by Antony Trew)
- HMS Carousel (from We Saw the Sea by John Winton; based on C-class destroyers in the Dartmouth Training Squadron)
- HMS Leviathan (a fictional aircraft carrier from the novel HMS Leviathan by John Winton; the real Majestic-class carrier with this name was never completed)
- HMS Medusa (a fictional "obsolete frigate" in the 1988 novel Medusa by Hammond Innes)
- HMS Pandora (fictional Leander-class frigate from One of our Warships by John Winton)
- HMS Seahorse (from Down the Hatch & All the Nice Girls by John Winton; submarine)
- HMS Temeraire (fictional Resolution-class submarine from The Fighting Temeraire by John Winton)
Post-war film and media
- HMS Aristotle (from the 1958 Frankie Howerd comedy film Further Up the Creek, played by a Type 14 frigate).
- HMS Bedford, HMS Chester, HMS Devonshire (fictional Type 23 frigates in 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies)
- HMS Berkeley (from 1957 Peter Sellers comedy film Up the Creek, played by Castle-class corvette HMS Berkeley Castle).
- HMS Dorchester (in the 1960 Norman Wisdom film The Bulldog Breed, played by a Type 14 Blackwood-class frigate)
- HMS Gillingham (from the 1956 John Mills film The Baby and the Battleship, played by HMS Birmingham).
- HMS Hero (from the 1970s BBC drama series Warship played by the Leander-class frigate: HMS Phoebe among others)
- HMS Makepeace (from the 1960s The Navy Lark radio comedy; generic destroyer)
- HMS Monarch is a fictional Type 23 frigate in the Action Stations exhibit at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth, England.
- HMS Sherwood (in 1957 A. E. Matthews comedy film Carry on Admiral; played by a Daring-class destroyer)
- HMS Suffolk (from the 2004 ITV drama series Making Waves, played by Type 23 frigate: HMS Grafton and others)
- HMS Troutbridge (from the 1959-77 The Navy Lark radio comedy; inspired by Type 15 frigate: HMS Troubridge).
- HMS Trumpton (in The Navy Lark 1959 film version, the action is transferred to an inshore minesweeper, played by HMS Reedham)
- HMS Vigil (from the BBC drama Vigil) HMS Vigil is a fictional Vanguard-class submarine.
- HMS Virtue (mentioned in the BBC drama Vigil) HMS Virtue is a fictional Vanguard-class submarine.
- Colledge and Warlow (2006) Page viii.
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.