Wikipedia:WikiProject Ships/Guidelines

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The Wikipedia:Manual of Style describes general Wikipedia style conventions, while specific naming conventions for ship articles are laid out at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (ships). Following are guidelines for developing the three primary types of articles used by this project: index pages, ship class articles, and individual ship articles.

Index pages[edit]

If there has been more than one ship with the same name, create a ship index page for the generic ship name. Like the disambiguation rules, unless one instance of the ship overshadows all others (e.g. HMS Victory), the index is the primary article. Index pages about ships should include in their titles only the standard prefix used by ships of that name. Other identification should be omitted, so that a reader can easily locate the material sought; for example, name an index article simply "USS Enterprise".

Within the article, give a brief introduction to the name, followed by very brief identifications of each vessel. The identifications should provide enough information for a reader to find the particular ship being sought, but not expand into an account of her career. You should give:

  • the hull number or pennant number (if any);
  • the year of launch (if known, or another significant date such as year of purchase or commissioning if not);
  • ship type (frigate/destroyer/third-rate) and class (if any); and
  • the single most significant event of her career, if any (e.g. "fought at the battle of Trafalgar", "convoy escort in World War II", "wrecked off Jamaica in a hurricane").

Index pages should use the template {{Shipindex|name=Ship name, Ship prefix}}. Although the |name= parameter is nominally optional, it must be used to keep Category:Set indices on ships properly sorted when the index title has a ship prefix.

Sample index page[edit]

Three ships of the [[Royal Navy]] have been named '''HMS ''Pinafore''''' after the [[pinafore]]:

* {{HMS|Pinafore|1652}}, launched in 1652 as ''Dunbar'', was a 60-gun third-rate ship of the line. She fought in the First Anglo-Dutch War and was renamed ''Pinafore'' on the Restoration in 1660.
* {{HMS|Pinafore|1878}}, launched in 1878, was a {{sclass|Rackstraw|sloop|0}} [[sloop-of-war|sloop]] that saw action against the Penzance corsairs.
* {{HMS|Pinafore|D987}}, launched in 1943, was an {{sclass2|Operetta|destroyer|0}} [[escort destroyer]].  She served in World War II, escorting cheese convoys to Archangel. She was coincidentally sunk by ''U-987'' in 1944.

{{shipindex|name=Pinafore, HMS}}
[[Category:Royal Navy ship names|Pinafore]]


  • On a shipindex page, don't obscure a ship article's name behind piping—if the article name is disambiguated by a year or hull/pennant number, the link to it on a shipindex page should display this. You can use editing shortcut templates to easily format a ship's name in italics while still displaying the full article name.
  • When you make an index page, always check "What links here". There are often pages that link to the ship name that need to be redirected.
  • Not all navies have categories of ship names.

Individual ship articles[edit]

Articles about individual ships should have fully disambiguated titles, and include all information from the index page; in other words, don't assume that the reader has seen the index page.


  • An {{other ships}} hatnote may be used at a page "ABC Foo (1901)" or "ABC Foo (F7)" to direct readers to the "ABC Foo" ship index page, but only if that index page exists. This is because whilst the title "ABC Foo (1901)" is completely unambiguous, it is possible that a reader landing there was looking for a different ship of that name.
  • If the ship ABC Foo (1901) has held another name, e.g. CBA Bar (1909), then instead of using {{other ships}}, use something like the following, but only where there is a redirect "CBA Bar (1909)" to the article, and only when the ship index or disambiguation page "CBA Bar" exists:
    • {{redirect|CBA Bar (1909)|other ships with the same name|CBA Bar}} ("CBA Bar (1909)" redirects here. For other ships with the same name, see CBA Bar.)
    • {{redirect|CBA Bar (1909)|other uses|CBA Bar (disambiguation)}} ("CBA Bar (1909)" redirects here. For other uses, see CBA Bar (disambiguation).)
  • No hatnote should result in a redlink.


Infoboxes provide a summary of information about the subject of an article in a consistent, attractive, and easy-to-read way. All ship articles and ship class articles should use an infobox to summarize characteristics and other information. See {{Infobox ship begin}} and the Usage guide for full details on the ship infoboxes.

When assigning a list of items to an infobox parameter, always used unordered list markup (*); see the Usage guide at §Diverse stylistic issues.

Introductory sentence[edit]

The first sentence of (any) article should use the article title, set in bold face, early in the sentence to establish context. If the title has a parenthetical disambiguator, year of launch or a pennant number, the disambiguator should be omitted. In the case of ships, set all elements of the name in bold face; italicize the ship's name. U.S. hull numbers should be retained in bold; for example, '''HMS ''Ark Royal''''', '''USS ''Enterprise'' (CV-6)'''. The commissioning nation, the ship type, and the time period are important elements of context. Why the particular name was given is interesting, especially if it is not obvious. It is also helpful to the reader to mention the particular significance of the ship, such as "world's first aircraft carrier". Later references to the same ship in the article should just use the ship's name, still in italics: Ark Royal or Enterprise. Do not begin the introductory sentence with a definite article ("The") unless it is part of the ship's name.

Article body[edit]

In a sense, an article about a ship is a lot like a biography; the dates of commissioning and decommissioning set the context, while achievements explain why the ship has an article in the first place, and events in the ship's life connect the narrative. In addition, a ship will have associated with other ships and various people such as officers and crew; these should all be interlinked—famous admirals were once junior officers on some ship or another, and the cross-links will illuminate. Every ship article should have a picture of the ship if possible.

Since this is Wikipedia, ship articles should be pruned to the ship's life as such, and links made to separate articles about battles and other multi-ship events (such as the cruise of the Great White Fleet).

Articles should make objective assessments of the ship as the data warrants ("too slow to be of use", etc). If the article content is not sufficient to support the assessment, then cite external references. Assessments are especially important for ship class articles.

Notable and non-notable crew[edit]

While a ship may have many notable individuals, including commanding officers, serving aboard her during her active lifespan, as a general principle only individuals who are independently notable or were significant to the ship's history (i.e. playing a substantial role in a major event involving the ship) and are named in reliable sources, should be considered for inclusion in a ship article. It is strongly recommended that any such mention should be done as part of the chronological narrative of the ship's career rather than in a separate section. Notable persons should be linked to their biographical article, or redlinked if none yet exists, to encourage creation. If inclusion of any individual name is challenged, the matter should be addressed on the article talk page and any consensus determined there will supersede this guidance.


Types of boats and ships should be categorized under Category:Boat types and Category:Ship types. The very small number of notable boats and ships should be classified under Category:Boats and Category:Ships; usually it is more appropriate to utilize the subcategories for nationality, purpose, etc. Vessels that are not clearly "boats" nor "ships" may be classified under both, to facilitate being found either way. Oddball water vessels not otherwise classifiable should go in Category:Water transport. Ships from works of fiction should be categorized in Category:Fictional ships.

Project template[edit]

When editing an article of interest to WikiProject Ships, please make sure that {{WikiProject Ships}} is placed at the top of the related Talk page.

Sample individual ship article[edit]

{{otherships|HMS Pinafore}}

'''HMS ''Pinafore''''' was a {{sclass|Rackstraw|sloop|0}} [[sloop-of-war|sloop]] of the [[Royal Navy]], named after [[pinafore|a frilly apron]]. She was [[ship naming and launching|launched]] on 29{{nbsp}}December 1878, and [[ship commissioning|commissioned]] on 25{{nbsp}}May 1879 under the command of Captain Corcoran.


{{Rackstraw class sloop}}

{{DEFAULTSORT:Pinafore (1878)}}
[[Category:Rackstraw class sloops]]

Or for a more modern ship:

{{otherships|HMS Pinafore}}

'''HMS ''Pinafore''''' was an {{sclass2|Operetta|destroyer|0}} [[escort destroyer]] of the [[Royal Navy]], named after [[pinafore|a frilly apron]]. She was laid down by Bobstay and Sons, [[Penzance]], on 17{{nbsp}}October 1942, [[ship naming and launching|launched]] on 6{{nbsp}}May 1943, and [[ship commissioning|commissioned]] on 4{{nbsp}}August 1943. She served in [[World War II]] under the command of Captain [[Tom Tucker]].


{{Operetta class destroyer}}

{{DEFAULTSORT:Pinafore (D987)}}
[[Category:Operetta class destroyers]]

Soviet and Russian ships have NATO reporting names in addition to the actual project number and name in Russian:

'''K-141 ''Kursk''''' was a Project 949A Антей (''Antey'', [[Antaeus]]; also known by the [[NATO reporting name]] of [[Oscar class submarine|"Oscar-II"–class]]) nuclear cruise missile submarine, named for the [[Battle of Kursk]]....

Ship class articles[edit]

Ship class articles should follow the same general format as individual ship articles.

Sample ship class article[edit]

The '''''Rackstraw'' class''' was a [[ship class|class]] of [[sloop-of-war|sloops]] of the [[Royal Navy]]. Seven were built at [[Penzance]] by Bobstay and Sons between 1876 and 1878. They were wooden composite screw sloops — that is, they had three masts as well as steam-powered screw propulsion. The ''Rackstraw'' class was a modified version of the {{sclass|Fantome|sloop|4}} ...


== Ships ==
* {{HMS|Rackstraw|1876|2}}, launched in 1876
* {{HMS|Pinafore|1878|2}}, launched in 1878

{{Rackstraw class sloop}}

[[Category:Ship classes]]
[[Category:Rackstraw class sloops| ]]