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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 "PS" for paddle steamer, 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 British 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, that were eliminated by President Theodore Roosevelt's Executive order of 1907 making "United States Ship" (USS) the standard for the Navy's commissioned ships while in commission. In the United States Navy that prefix officially only applies while the ship is in active commission, with only the name used before or after a period of commission and for all vessels "in service" rather than commissioned status. 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 German 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 (pennant 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.
These tables list both current and historical prefixes known to have been used.
These prefixes are generally used for merchant vessels of any nationality.
National or military prefixes
|Argentina||Argentine Navy||ARA||Navy of the Argentine Republic (Spanish: Armada de la República Argentina)|
|Argentine Coast Guard||GC||Argentine Coast Guard Ship (Spanish: Guardacostas)|
|Australia||Royal Australian Navy||HMAS||His/Her Majesty's Australian Ship/Submarine/Station|
|NUSHIP||New Ship/Submarine (Yet to be commissioned)|
|ADV||Australian Defence Vessel (non-commissioned naval-operated ships)|
|Australian Customs and Border Protection Service||ACV||Australian Customs Vessel|
|Australian Border Force||ABFC||Australian Border Force Cutter|
|Australia (pre-Federation)||Colonial navies of Australia||HMCS||His/Her Majesty's Colonial Ship|
|HMQS||His/Her Majesty's Queensland Ship (Queensland Maritime Defence Force)|
|HMVS||His/Her Majesty's Victorian Ship (Victorian Naval Forces)|
|Austria-Hungary||Austro-Hungarian Navy||SMS||Seiner Majestät Schiff (English: His Majesty's Ship)|
|Bahamas||Royal Bahamas Defence Force||HMBS||His/Her Majesty's Bahamian Ship|
|Bangladesh||Bangladesh Coast Guard||CGS||Coast Guard Ship|
|Bangladesh Navy||BNS||Bangladesh Navy Ship|
|Barbados||Barbados Defence Force||HMBS||His/Her Majesty's Barbadian Ship|
|Belgium||Belgian Navy||BNS||Belgium Naval Ship (NATO prefix)|
|Brunei||Royal Brunei Navy||KDB||Kapal Di-Raja Brunei – Royal Brunei Ship|
|Burma||Myanmar Navy||UMS||Myanmar Sit Yay Yin – Union of Myanmar Ship|
|Canada||Royal Canadian Navy, formerly Canadian Forces Maritime Command||HMCS/NCSM||His/Her Majesty's Canadian Ship/Navire canadien de Sa Majesté (French)|
|CFAV/NAFC||Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessel/Navire auxiliaire des Forces canadiennes (French)|
|Canadian Coast Guard||CCGS/NGCC||Canadian Coast Guard Ship/Navire de Garde côtière canadienne (French)|
|CCGC/CGCC||Canadian Coast Guard Cutter/Cotre de Garde côtière canadienne (French) (no longer used)|
|Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Department of Transport, and predecessor departments||CGS||Canadian Government Ship (no longer used)|
|CSS||Canadian Survey Ship (no longer used)|
|DGS||Dominion Government Ship (no longer used)|
|Royal Canadian Sea Cadets||SCTS/NECM||Sea Cadet Training Ship/Navire école des cadets de la Marine (French)|
|China||People's Liberation Army Navy||—||No official prefix; some authors use "CNS" (Chinese Navy Ship) or "PLANS" (People's Liberation Army Navy Ship)|
|Colombia||Armada Nacional||ARC||Armada de la República de Colombia|
|Confederate States||Confederate States Navy||CSS||Confederate States Ship|
|Cook Islands||Cook Islands Police||CIPPB||Cook Islands Police Patrol Boat|
|Denmark||Royal Danish Navy||HDMS (Danish: KDM)||His/Her Danish Majesty's Ship (Danish: Kongelige Danske Marine)|
|Ecuador||Armada Ecuatoriana||BAE||Buque de la Armada de Ecuador|
|Estonia||Estonian Navy||ENS (Estonian: EML)||Estonian Naval Ship (NATO designation)|
|Estonian Coast Guard||ECGS||Estonian Coast Guard Ship (NATO designation)|
|Fiji||Republic of Fiji Navy||RFNS||Republic of Fiji Naval Ship|
|Finland||Finnish Navy||FNS||Finnish Navy Ship. Prefixes are not used in Finnish-language communications.|
|France||French Navy||OF||Okręt Francuski (Polish French Ship); used in 1940–41 for French destroyer Ouragan|
|FS||French Ship (NATO designation); France does not use prefixes internally|
|German Empire||Kaiserliche Marine||SM U##||Seiner Majestät Unterseeboot (English: His Majesty's Submarine)|
|SMS||Seiner Majestät Schiff (English: His Majesty's Ship)|
|Nazi Germany||Kriegsmarine||—||(no prefix; some authors use "DKM" for "Deutsche Kriegsmarine" and "KMS" for "Kriegsmarine Schiffe")|
|West Germany||Bundesmarine||FGS||Federal German Ship (NATO designation); West Germany did not use prefixes internally|
|Germany (reunited)||German Navy||FGS||Federal German Ship (NATO designation)|
|Kingdom of Greece||Royal Hellenic Navy||ΒΠ (VP)||Βασιλικόν Πλοίον (Vassilikón Ploíon), "Royal Ship"; RHS (Royal Hellenic Ship) or HHMS (His Hellenic Majesty's Ship) in use by English-language authors and contemporary foreign navies.|
|Greece||Hellenic Navy||HS||Hellenic Ship: NATO designation, used in international communications; internally the Hellenic Navy uses prefixes indicating ship type.|
|Guyana||Guyanese Coast Guard||GDFS||Guyanese Defence Forces Ship|
|Kingdom of Hawaii||Hawaiian Navy||HHMS||His Hawaiian Majesty's Ship; the only one being Kaimiloa|
|Iceland||Icelandic Coast Guard||ICGV (Icelandic: VS)||Icelandic Coast Guard Vessel, (Icelandic:Varðskip)|
|India||Indian Navy (pre-Republic)||HMIS||His/Her Majesty's Indian Ship|
|India||Indian Coast Guard||ICGS||Indian Coast Guard Ship|
|Indian Navy||INS||Indian Naval Ship|
|Indonesia||Indonesian Navy||KRI||Kapal Republik Indonesia (Republic of Indonesia Ship)|
|Republic of Indonesia||KL||Kapal Layar (Sailing Ship)|
|Republic of Indonesia||KM||Kapal Motor (Motor Ship)|
|Republic of Indonesia||KN||Kapal Negara (State Ship)|
|Iran||Imperial Iranian Navy||IIS||Imperial Iranian Ship (Persian: ناو شاهنشاهی ایران)|
|Iran||Islamic Republic of Iran Navy||IRIS||Islamic Republic of Iran ship (Persian: ناو جمهوری اسلامی ایران)|
|Ireland||Irish Naval Service||LÉ||Long Éireannach — Irish ship|
|Israel||Israeli Sea Corps||INS||Israeli Naval Ship (Internally Hebrew acronym אח"י (A.Ch.Y.) is used standing for אניית חיל הים (Oniyat Heyl HaYam – Sea Corps Ship)|
| Kingdom of Italy
|Regia Marina||RN||Regia Nave – Royal Ship|
|Regia Marina||R.Smg.||Regio Sommergibile – Royal Submarine|
|Italy||Marina Militare||ITS||Italian Ship (NATO designation); Italy no longer uses prefixes|
|Jamaica||Jamaica Defence Force||HMJS||His/Her Majesty's Jamaican Ship|
|Empire of Japan||Imperial Japanese Navy||—||(no prefix; some authors use "HIJMS" for "His Imperial Japanese Majesty's Ship" and "IJN" for "Imperial Japanese Navy")|
|Japan||Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force||JDS or JS||Japanese Defense Ship or Japanese Ship|
|Kenya||Kenyan Navy||KNS||Kenyan Naval Ship|
|Kiribati||Kiribati Police Force||RKS||Republic of Kiribati Ship|
|North Korea||Korean People's Navy||—||(currently unknown)|
|South Korea||Republic of Korea Navy||ROKS||Republic of Korea Ship|
|Latvia||Latvian Navy||LVNS||Latvian Naval Ship (NATO designation)|
|Lietuvos Karinis Laivas – Lithuanian Military Ship
Lithuanian Ship (NATO designation)
|Malaysia||Royal Malaysian Navy||KD||Kapal Di-Raja — His Majesty's Ship, literal: Royal Ship.|
|Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency||KM||Kapal Maritim — Maritime Ship|
|Marshall Islands||Marshall Islands Police||RMIS||Republic of the Marshall Islands Ship|
|Federated States of Micronesia||FSM National Police||FSM||Federated States of Micronesia|
|Mexico||Armada de México||ARM||Armada de la República Mexicana|
|Myanmar||Tatmadaw Yay||UMS||Myanma Sit Yay Yin – Union of Myanmar Ship|
|Namibia||Namibian Navy||NS||Namibian Ship|
|Netherlands||Royal Netherlands Navy||HNLMS (Dutch: Zr.Ms./Hr.Ms.)||His/Her Netherlands Majesty's Ship (Dutch: Zijner/Harer Majesteits, archaic Dutch language genitive, lit. "His/Her Majesty's")|
|New Zealand||Royal New Zealand Navy||HMNZS||His/Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship|
|Nigeria||Nigerian Navy||NNS||Nigerian Naval Ship|
|Norway||Royal Norwegian Navy||HNoMS (Norwegian: KNM), in use since 1946||His Norwegian Majesty's Ship (Norwegian: Kongelige Norske Marine)|
|Norwegian Coast Guard||NoCGV (Norwegian: KV)||Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel (Norwegian: Kystvakten)|
|Oman||Royal Navy of Oman||SNV||Sultanate Naval Vessel|
|Pakistan||Pakistan Navy||PNS||Pakistani Naval Ship|
|Palau||Palau Police||PSS||Palau State Ship|
|Papua New Guinea||Papua New Guinea Defence Force||HMPNGS||His/Her Majesty's Papua New Guinea Ship|
|Peru||Peruvian Navy||BAP||Peruvian Navy Ship (Spanish: Buque Armada Peruana)|
|BIC||Scientific Research Ship (Spanish: Buque de Investigación Científica)|
|Philippines||Philippine Navy||BRP||Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas; in use since 1 July 1980
(Ship of the Republic of the Philippines)
|RPS||Republic of the Philippines Ship (Obsolete); before 1 July 1980|
|Poland||Polish Navy||ORP||Ship of the Republic of Poland
(Polish: Okręt Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej)
|Portugal||Marinha Portuguesa||NRP||Navio da República Portuguesa – Ship of the Portuguese Republic|
|PNS||Portuguese Navy Ship (NATO designation, not used internally)|
|UAM||Unidade Auxiliar da Marinha – Navy Auxiliary Unit (used by the Portuguese Navy non-military ships)|
|Romania||Romanian Navy||NMS||Nava Majestăţii Sale (His/Her Majesty's Ship) – used before 1945 by the Royal Romanian Navy|
|SMR||Serviciul Maritim Român (The Romanian Sea Service) – used by transport ships|
|ROS||Romanian Ship (NATO designation, not used internally)|
|Russian Empire||Imperial Russian Navy||HIRMS||(no prefix; some authors use "HIRMS" for "His Imperial Russian Majesty's Ship")|
|Russia||Russian Navy||—||No official prefix; some authors use "RFS" (Russian: Корабль Российской Федерации)|
|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|
|Solomon Islands||Royal Solomon Islands Police||RSIPV||Royal Solomon Islands Police Vessel|
|South Africa||South African Navy||SAS||South African Ship (previously HMSAS – His/Her Majesty's South African Ship)|
|SATS||South African Training Ship|
|Soviet Union||Soviet Navy||—||No official prefix; some authors use "USSRS" (Russian: Корабль Союза Советских Социалистических Республик)|
|Spain||Armada Española||ESPS||Spanish Naval Ship (Spain does not use prefixes internally)|
|Sri Lanka||Sri Lankan Navy||SLNS||Sri Lanka Naval Ship|
|Sweden||Swedish Navy||HMS (English: HSwMS)||Hans/Hennes Majestäts Skepp (His/Her Majesty's Ship) – in English HSwMS (His/Her Swedish Majesty's Ship) is used to avoid confusion with Royal Navy ships|
|Republic of China||Republic of China Navy||ROCS (older usage: CNS)||Republic of China Ship (older usage: Chinese Navy Ship)|
|Thailand||Royal Thai Navy||HTMS||His Thai Majesty's Ship|
|Timor-Leste||Timor Leste Defense Force||NRTL||Navio da República de Timor Leste (Ship of the Timor Leste Republic)|
|Tonga||Tonga Defence Services||VOEA||Vaka O Ene Afio (His Majesty's Vessel)|
|Turkey||Turkish Navy||TCG||Ship of the Turkish Republic (Turkish: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Gemisi.)|
|Tuvalu||Tuvalu Police Force||HMTSS||His/Her Majesty's Tuvaluan State Ship|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force||TTS||Trinidad and Tobago Ship|
|United Kingdom||Ships carrying mail||RMS||Royal Mail Steamer/Ship|
|Fishery protection vessels||FPV||Fisheries Protection Vessel|
|Royal Air Force||HMAFV||His/Her Majesty's Air Force Vessel (not currently in use)|
|Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships||RFA||Royal Fleet Auxiliary|
|Royal Maritime Auxiliary
|RMAS||Royal Maritime Auxiliary Ship (now obsolete)|
|Royal Naval Auxiliary Service||XSV||Auxiliary Service Vessel (now obsolete)|
|Royal Navy||HM Sloop||His/Her Majesty's Sloop (now obsolete)|
|HMS||His/Her Majesty's Ship/Submarine|
|HMSm||His/Her Majesty's Submarine (not currently in use)|
|HMT||Hired Military Transport (not currently in use)|
|HMAV||His/Her Majesty's Armed Vessel (not currently in use)|
|HMY||His/Her Majesty's Yacht (not currently in use)|
|HMMGB||His/Her Majesty's Motor Gun Boat (not currently in use)|
|HMM||His/Her Majesty's Monitor (not currently in use)|
|HMSML||His/Her Majesty's Small Motor Launch|
|HBMS||His/Her Britannic Majesty's Ship (archaic)|
|HM||His/Her Majesty's, then used with the type of ship in military use (e.g. "HM Trawler")|
|Hospital Ships||HMHS||His/Her Majesty's Hospital Ship|
|Joint Services Sail Training Yachts (JSASTC)||HMSTC||His/Her Majesty's Sail Training Craft|
|Trinity House||THV||Trinity House Vessel (Lighthouse and Buoy Tender)|
|Northern Lighthouse Board||NLV||Northern Lighthouse Vessel (Lighthouse tender)|
|Commissioners of Irish Lights||ILV||Irish Lights Vessel (Lighthouse tender)|
|British Army||HMAV||Her Majesty's Army Vessel|
|RCLV||Royal Corps of Logistics Vessel (not currently in use)|
|Government research ships||RRS||Royal Research Ship|
|HM Revenue and Customs||HMCC, HMC||His/Her Majesty's Customs Cutter shortened to His/Her Majesty's Cutter after being transferred to UK Visas and Immigration|
|HM Customs and Excise (replaced by HMRC, above)||HMRC||His/Her Majesty's Revenue Cutter (not used since 18 April 2005). Also His/Her Majesty's Revenue Cruiser (as per HMRC Vigilant 1947. Not used since ca1960)|
|United States||United States Air Force||USAF, USAFS||United States Air Force ship (not currently in use)|
|United States Army (modern)||USAS||United States Army Ship (modern)|
|USAV||United States Army Vessel (modern)|
|United States Army (historical)|
|USAT||United States Army Transport (large troop or cargo transports, not currently in use)|
|USAMP||U.S. Army Mine Planter (not currently in use)|
|U.S. Army||Vessels not otherwise designated: tugs, FS, Q, P etc. (not currently in use)|
|USAHS||United States Army Hospital Ship (not currently in use)|
|United States Navy||USF||United States Frigate (obsolete)|
|USFS||United States Flagship (obsolete)|
|USS||United States Ship – Commissioned ships only. |
|USNV||United States Naval Vessel (Small utility vessels, not MSC, operated by local commands)|
|U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC)||USNS||United States Naval Ship (USN-owned, civilian crews)|
|United States Coast Guard||USCGC||United States Coast Guard Cutter|
|USCGD||United States Coast Guard Destroyer (not currently in use)|
|National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration||NOAAS||National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ship|
|United States Coast and Geodetic Survey||USC&GS||United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (obsolete); occasionally a second "S" for "survey ship" was used|
|United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries||USFC||United States Fish Commission (obsolete); commonly used informal name for the Commission; no "S" for "ship" was used|
|United States Lighthouse Service||USLHT||United States Lighthouse Tender (obsolete)|
|United States Revenue Cutter Service||USRC||United States Revenue Cutter (obsolete)|
|Uruguay||Uruguayan Navy||ROU||República Oriental del Uruguay|
|Vanuatu||Vanuatu Police Force||RVS||Republic of Vanuatu Ship|
|Venezuela||Venezuelan Navy||FNV||Fuerzas Navales de Venezuela Not in use since 1949|
|ARV||Armada República de Venezuela Not in use 1999|
|ARBV||Armada República Bolivariana de Venezuela|
|Kingdom of Yugoslavia||Royal Yugoslav Navy||KB||Kraljevski brod or Краљевски брод (English: Royal Ship), 1918–1941|
|YUG SCG||Jugoslovenska Ratna Mornarica JRM (English: Yugoslavia war navy) Yugoslav Navy 1969–1992
Ratna Mornarica Vojske Jugoslavije RМVЈ (English: War navy of Yugoslavia Armed Forces) 1992–2003
|RTOP||Raketna Topovnjača or Ракетна Топовњача (English: Rocket gunship), named by Yugoslavia peoples heroes|
|RČ||Raketni Čamac or Ракетни Чамац (English: Rocket boat), 1969–1992, named by Yugoslavia peoples heroes|
|VPBR||Veliki Patrolni Brod or Велики Патролни Брод (English: Big patrol ship), 1969–1992, named by Yugoslavia coastal towns|
|TČ||Torpedni Čamac or Торпедни Чамац (English: Torpedo boat), 1969–1992|
|PČ||Patrolni Čamac or Патролни Чамац (English: Patrol boat), 1969–1992, named by mountains|
|PO||Pomoćni Oružar or Помоћни Оружар (English: Auxiliary аrmourer), 1969–1992|
|RML||Rečni minolovac or Речни миноловац (English: River minesweepers), 1969–1992, named by places of WWII battles|
|RPB||Rečni patrolni brod or Речни патролни брод (English: River patrol boat), 1969–1992|
|P||Podmornica or Подморница (English: Submarine), 1969–1992, named by rivers or human qualities|
|RЕ||Razarač Eskortni or Разарач Ескортни (English: Escort destroyer), 1969–1992|
|PT||Pomoćni transportni or Помоћни транспортни (English: Auxiliary transport), 1969–1992|
|DČ||Desantni čamci or Десантни чамци (English: Landing craft), 1969–1992|
The designations for United Kingdom ships applied at the time of the British Empire, before the establishment of separate navies for the Dominions.
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 in 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. Since King Willem-Alexander succeeded Queen Beatrix on 30 April 2013, "Hr.Ms." is replaced by "Zr.Ms.".
In Australia, the prefix NUSHIP is used to denote ships that have yet to be commissioned into the fleet.
In the United States, all prefixes other than "USS," "USNS", "USNV", and "USRC" were made obsolete in 1901 when President Theodore Roosevelt issued an Executive order fixing American naval nomenclature. USRC was replaced by USCGC when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the United States Lifesaving Service to become the United States Coast Guard in 1915. USLHT also was replaced by USCGC when the United States Lighthouse Service became a part of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939. USC&GS was replaced by NOAAS when the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey merged with other U.S. Government scientific agencies to form the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970.
A United States Navy ship that is not in active commission does not hold the title of United States Ship with simply the name without prefix used before and after commissioned service. Vessels, such as yard and harbor craft that are not commissioned and "in service" are officially referred to by name or hull number without prefix. Military Sealift Command (MSC) civilian manned ships "in service" are given the prefix United States Naval Ship (USNS). Prior to commissioning, ships may be described as a pre-commissioning unit or PCU; for example, the uncommissioned Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) has been described as the "pre-commissioning unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford." However, the vessel's official name is Gerald R. Ford without any prefix, and will be known as USS Gerald R. Ford once commissioned.
When it is stricken from the fleet list, a ship typically has the prefix "ex-" added to its name, to distinguish it from any active ships bearing the same name. For example, after USS Constellation (CV-64) was retired in 2003, she became referred to as ex-Constellation.
Note that while calling a US ship "the USS Flattop" may make grammatical sense, the preliminary article "the" is discouraged by nearly all style guides, and the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Navy uses ship names without article, except for USS The Sullivans, named for the five Sullivan brothers, all lost at sea during World War II. Its British equivalent ("the HMS Flattop") is also discouraged, since "the Her Majesty's Ship" would be grammatically incorrect.
Yugoslavia war navy had strict naming rules and ships prefix that was driven by order by President of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1969. After dissolution of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia new state Federal Republic of Yugoslavia continued same naming convention for War navy of Yugoslavia Armed Forces from 1992 to 2003.
'Empire' ship prefix
In 1939 then during and after the Second World War, the British Ministry of Shipping adopted a standard naming system whereby all merchant ships ordered to be built in Britain to Government account, except very small ship types, would be given the prefix Empire to their name. This applied to ships acquired through purchase, requisition, or taken in prize, with some exceptions. It also applied to older ships acquired from the USA, modern ships acquired on Lease/Lend arrangements, salved and refitted ships, and captured enemy ships. Empire ships were ships built or acquired to supplement the wartime merchant fleet. They were used for convoy duties transporting supplies and military convoy work for the war effort.
In science fiction
Fictional equivalents of tri-letter prefixes frequently appear in English-language science fiction works, applied to seafaring and spaceborne ships alike. See also Space navy for similar adoption of naval customs for fictional spacefaring military organizations.
- Star Trek – the United Federation of Planets uses the prefix "USS" for its starships. While Gene Roddenberry never defined what the abbreviation stood for, some speculate that it means "United Space Ship", "United Star Ship", or "United [Federation of Planets] Starfleet Starship/Ship". In the alternate 'Mirror Universe', the Terran Empire use an "ISS" prefix instead. Other races use different prefixes for their ships:
- Klingons use IKS (Imperial Klingon Ship) or IKC (Imperial Klingon Cruiser).
- Romulan vessels typically receive the prefix IRW (Imperial Romulan Warbird), or RIS where some speculate that it means "Romulan Imperial Ship", and ChR. (ChR is from novelist Diane Duane's imagining of the Star Trek Universe, in which the Romulans refer to their home planet as "Ch'Rihan." Though Duane's version has a loyal following among many fans, it is not considered official Star Trek canon; similarly, the Ferengi designation of FMS, and the Cardassian CDS, are also not canon.)
- Babylon 5 – The Earth Alliance uses the prefix "EAS" for "Earth Alliance Ship". Some fan material also uses it for "Earth Alliance Station".
- Firefly – Vessels in the Union of Allied Planets fleet are given the prefix "IAV", for Interstellar Alliance Vessel.
- The Terran Confederation, from Wing Commander, uses TCS (Terran Confederation Ship) for its vessels.
- Halo – United Nations Space Command spacecraft use the prefix "UNSC".
- Mass Effect – features several prefixes, primarily "SSV" for "Systems Alliance space vehicle" and "MSV" for "Merchant Space Vehicle," used on numerous human commercial ships, as well as "PFS" for a Turian Hierarchy naval craft, and a freighter AML Demeter of unknown affiliation.
- Dead Space – "USG", standing for "United Spacefaring Guild", which oversees civilian spacecraft operation, including the planet-cracker class leader USG Ishimura of the Concordance Extraction Corporation; "USM" for the Earth Defense Force of EarthGov; and "CMS" for its former opponents, the Sovereign Colonies Armed Forces.
- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – The Federated Nations use "FNS", presumably meaning "Federated Nations Ship".
- Alien – The ships use prefix "USCSS" for "United States Cargo SpaceShip" in Nostromo, Prometheus or Covenant.
- The Lost Fleet – The Alliance use the prefix "ASN" for "Allied Systems Navy" (or possibly "Alliance of Systems Navy"), the Syndicate Worlds do not use prefixes.
- CoDominium – CoDominium vessels use the prefix "CDS" for CoDominium Ship.
- "Honorverse" – The Manticoran kingdom uses "HMS" as a prefix, the Graysons use GNS, and the Havenite ships use "PNS" being reflections of actual ship prefixing traditions, and mirroring the Napoleonic wars.
- The Culture – Ships are identified by a three-letter prefix denoting class (such as GSV for "General Systems Vehicle" or ROU for "Rapid Offensive Unit"), followed by their personal name.
- The Expanse – Ships of the United Nations Navy use the prefix "UNN," while ships of the Mars Congressional Republic Navy are prefixed with "MCRN."
- Unreal Tournament – Ships mentioned there have prefixes such as ITV ("Interstellar Transport Vessel", the first non-tutorial match in the tournament happens on board of ITV Oblivion) and ISV ("Interstellar Science Vessel", ship's name being ISV-Kran from Unreal).
- Unreal: Return to Na Pali – ISV (ISV-Kran) and UMS ("Unified Military Services", a prefix for warships).
- ""Dead Vessel" Doctrine". USLegal.com. US Legal, Inc. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- "SHIP PREFIX -- GLOSSARY – CONTINUED". richatlanticinterserv.com. Rich Atlantic International Services. Archived from the original on 5 August 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- "Submarine and Special Warfare Support Vessel". Military Sealift Command. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
-  RINA acronyms
-  Ships of CalMac website
- Royal Australian Navy. "MSA Brolga". navy.gov.au. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "About the Coast Guard". 4 September 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- "Russian and Soviet Navy Battleships". frontier.com. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "List of Acronyms Preceding the Name of a Ship". 22 March 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
- Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 154
- Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) (July 25, 2012). "Dry Dock and overhaul of USNV Battle Point YTT-10". Navy Electronic Business Opportunities. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
- Circulaire Zeemacht 1569cc (1988)
- Dasgupta, Soumyajit. "What are Ship Prefixes for Naval and Merchant Vessels?". Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.
- "PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Welcomes 60 New Crew Members" (Press release). Navy News Service. 6 June 2013. NNS130606-12. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- In-Game Codex, entry for SSV Normandy
- Naval History And Heritage Command. "Ship Naming in the United States Navy". Naval History And Heritage Command. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
- United States Coast Guard Historian's Office (5 January 2015). "Coast Guard History". Frequently Asked Questions. United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 7 April 2015.