So What is the Meaning of SS on Ships?

Meaning of SS on Ships – “Steam Ship”

While many of these prefixes can seem obvious, SS is a little bit trickier because many options can come to mind at first glance. It can be straightforward to guess that the SS stands for “steamship;” though this was once true, it is not always the case in modern usage.

While some prefixes help to determine the purpose of the vessel, others saw historical use as an indicator of the power source for the boat. SS often stood for “steamship,” as steam what made these vessels operate. It was also a clear indicator that a boat differed from the slower performing means of propulsion, such as sailing and rowing power.

Historically, prefixes for civilian vessels often identified the vessel’s mode of propulsion, such as, “SS” (screw steamer), “MV” (motor vessel), or “PS” (paddle steamer). Alternatively, they might have reflected a vessel’s purpose, e.g. “RMS” (Royal Mail Ship), or “RV” (research vessel).

What does USS and HMS stand for?

USS – United States Ship, for the US Navy. USNS – United State Naval Ship – US Military Sealift Command. USCGC – United States Coast Guard Cutter. HMS – Her Majesty’s Ship – UK Royal Navy

Common Ship Prefixes

Between military and commercial vessels, ship prefixes serve the use of indicating the purpose of a boat. While not all countries use the same naming conventions, US and UK ships often use many of these prefixes to determine their origins. Many others have come into naval use. Some ship prefixes you may encounter are:

  • Cable Ship – CS
  • Fishing Vessel – FV
  • Gas Turbine Ship – GTS
  •  Lifeboat – LB
  • Motor Tanker – MT
  • Motor Vessel/Motor Ship – MV/MS
  • Motor Yacht – MY
  • Nuclear Ship – NS
  • Platform Supply Vessel – PSV
  • Research Vessel – RV
  • Royal Mail Ship – RMS
  • Sailing Vessel – SV
  • Training Ship – TS

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