United States ship naming conventions
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United States ship naming conventions for the navy were established by United States Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt. However, elements had existed since before his time. If a ship is reclassified, for example a destroyer is converted to a mine layer, it retains its original name.
- Battleships (BB), by law, were named for states, except for USS Kearsarge (BB-5).
- Battlecruisers (CC) under the 1916 program were to receive names of battles or famous ships. When cancelled under the Washington Naval Treaty, two were converted to aircraft carriers (CV), and this became the standard for them, with the exception of USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42), USS Wright (CVL-49), USS Forrestal (CVA-59), and USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63); some had names evoking flight (e.g., Wasp, Hornet).
- "Battlecruisers" or Large Cruisers (CB) under the 1940 program were named for United States Territories.
- Cruisers, both light and heavy (CL and CA), were named for cities in the United States and Territories, with the exception of USS Canberra (CA-70).
- Destroyers (DD) and destroyer escorts (DE) were named for Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard heroes.
- Submarines (SS and SSN) were either given a class letter and number, as in S-class submarines, or the names of fish and marine mammals.
- Oilers (AO and AOR) were named for rivers with Native American names, and colliers named for mythical figures.
- Fast combat support ships (AOE) were named after US cities.
- Ammunition ships (AE) were named either after volcanoes (e.g. Mauna Loa) or words relating to fire and explosions (e.g. Nitro and Pyro).
- Combat stores ships (AK, AF, and AFS) were named after stars and other heavenly bodies.
- Minesweepers (MS) were named for birds, or after "positive traits," e.g. Admirable and Dextrous.
- Hospital ships (AH) were given names related to their function, such as Comfort and Mercy.
- Fleet tugs (AT) and harbor tugs (YT) were named after American Indian tribes.
- The first forty-one nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) (called "boomers") were named after historical statesmen considered "Great Americans."
Contemporary ship naming conventions
- Aircraft carriers (CV and CVN), beginning with the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) (commissioned 1968), are named after American admirals and politicians, usually presidents. There is a continuing exception for the USS Enterprise, (CV(N)-6) , (CVN-65), (CVN-80).
- Amphibious assault ships (LPH, LHA, and LHD) are named after early American sailing ships, U.S. Marine Corps battles, or legacy names of earlier carriers from World War II.
- Amphibious Command Ships are named for geographical areas of within the U.S. (eg: mountain/mountain range)
- Amphibious transport docks (LPD) are named after U.S. cities, with the exception of the USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26), named after a former Congressman and USMC Officer.
- Ballistic missile submarines (SSBN and SSGN) are named after states, except for USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730).
- Cruisers (CG) are named after battles.
- Destroyers (DDG) retain their traditional naming conventions after U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard heroes, except for USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81).
- Dock landing ships (LSD) are named after cities or important places in U.S. and U.S. Naval history.
- Dry cargo ships (T-AKE) are named for American explorers, pioneers, activists and naval officers.
- Fast attack submarines (SSN) names are dependent on class;
- Los Angeles class - named after cities, with the exception of the USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-709), named for an Admiral who was a pioneer of the nuclear Navy.
- Seawolf class - (only 3 boats in class);
- Virginia class - named after U.S. states, with the exception of the USS John Warner (SSN-785), named for a United States Senator and the USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-795) who was a pioneer of the nuclear Navy.
- Fast combat support ships (AOE) are named for distinguished supply ships of the past.
- Frigates (FFG) retain their traditional naming conventions after U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard heroes.
- Littoral combat ships (LCS) are named for regionally-important U.S. cities and communities. (except for the lead ship of the first two classes for this type, USS Freedom (LCS-1) and USS Independence (LCS-2), and the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), named for a congresswoman.)
- Mine countermeasures ships (MCM) have mostly legacy names of previous US Navy ships, especially WWII-era minesweepers.
- Patrol boats (PC) have names based on weather phenomena
- Replenishment oilers (T-AO) were named for shipbuilders and marine and aeronautical engineers, but have returned to the older convention of river names.
- United States Navy Designations (Temporary)
- United States Navy ships
- Hull classification symbol
- List of U.S. military vessels named after women
Notes and references
- And the possible exception of USS Shangri-La (CV-38), which however can be said to have been named after a "battle," the Doolittle Raid
- Technically the Essex-class carriers Franklin, Randolph and Hancock were named for the Continental Navy ships which bore the names of those men, not the men themselves.
- Long Beach was the last US warship built on a true cruiser hull
- Congressional Research Service (June 12, 2013). "Navy Ship Names". United States Naval Instute. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
- 26 US Navy Ship Naming Controversies
- Ship Naming in the United States Navy
- Ship Naming Conventions
- A Report on Policies and Practices of the U.S. Navy for Naming the Vessels of the Navy (2012)
- Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress