Fantastic Ship Prefix

A short string of letters, usually 2-5, that appears just in front of the name of a ship. These indicate what kind of ship it is or who it belongs to (USS is a ship with the US Navy, HMS the Royal Navy, RMS a royal mail steamer).

So, when a Cool Boat or Cool Starship has been created for a work and given an awesome name, creators will sometimes give it a little extra touch of authenticity and come up with a prefix for their ship. It's fairly simple to do; if it's a military ship, take the initials of the military's name and put a 'S' on the end (such as SNS to stand for Space Navy Ship). This is often done to give it a little extra weight of authority.

Registry numbers or hull numbers are similar, and can also be created fairly easily depending on what type of ship it is.

Prefixes that are retools of already existing ones (USS, HMS) would not be counted here.

Compare Fantastic Honorifics and Fantastic Rank System.


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  • Galaxy Quest: The ship from the Show Within a Show, which the Thermians make real, is the NSEA Protector, which apparently stands for National Space Exploration Agency. The ship's registry starts with "NTE". It's never mentioned what this means in the movie, but behind the scenes it stands for "Not The Enterprise".
  • Avatar: The ship that brings Sully to Pandora is the ISV Venture Star, which stands for Interstellar Vehicle.

     Fan Works  

  • Bait and Switch:
    • When the Translation Convention from the Romulan language is in effect, Romulan Republic ships use the prefix ch'M'R, for ch'Mol'Rihan (New Romulus), while Imperial Romulan and Tal'Shiar ships both use ch'R for ch'Rihan (Romulus). In Federation standard they use RRW and IRW respectively.
    • In Beat the Drums of War, a Benthan Guard ship is given the prefix BGV, likely meaning Benthan Guard Vessel.


  • Honor Harrington: Several of the space navies have their own prefixes.
    • Grayson ships are designated as GNS (Grayson Navy Ship).
    • The People's Republic of Haven uses PNS (People's Navy Ship).
    • The Republic of Haven uses RHNS (Republic of Haven Navy Ship).
    • Solarian ships are designated SLNS (Solarian League Navy Ship).
    • Mesan warships (the real ones, not the Alignment's various dummy navies) use MANS (Mesan Alignment Navy Ship).
    • Hull classification numbers are similar to current navies with the exceptions of Dreadnoughts (DN) and Super-Dreadnoughts (SD). Later Dreadnoughts built to carry and deploy missile launching pods are referred to as SD(P)s but are numbered in the SD sequence without distinction. When LAC carriers come along they get the designation CLAC.
  • In M.C.A. Hogarth's Paradox universe the United Alliance Fleet's ships are designated UAV, and Terran merchant vessels are TMS. I.e. the UAV Stardancer and TMS Earthrise.
  • In the Rihannsu novels, Romulan ships use the prefix ChR, which appears to be short for ch'Rihan, the Romulan name for the planet Romulus.
  • Star Wars Legends: RNS (Royal Naboo Ship) was used by ships of Naboo's security forces.
  • CoDominium ships are have the prefix CDS (CoDominium Ship)
  • The Culture: The names of Culture ships tend to have a prefix describing their size and purpose. The most common ones are GSV (General Systems Vehicle), GCU (General Contact Unit) and ROU (Rapid Offence Unit), but other variations show up too.
  • Chakona Space: This series gives all Federation ships the prefix: FSS, regardless of ship's class or type.

     Live Action TV  

  • Star Trek:
    • While Starfleet ships use an existing prefix, their registry numbers had various original designations which usually began with 'N'.
      • NCC: Starfleet active. The producers never assigned the prefix any actual meaning. Production designer Matt Jeffries said he just combined the American aircraft registry (N) with the Soviet one (CCCP, the Cyrillic abbreviation for "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics").
      • NX: Starfleet experimental. Often used for the lead ships of a class, or ships that are the testbed of new technologies. The Excelsior first appears as NX-2000 while she is running trials and carrying an experimental warp drive. Later she is granted active status and her registry changes to NCC. USS Galaxy, the lead ship of the Enterprise-D's class, is listed in the Star Trek Technical Manual as having an NX prefix but is later seen in Deep Space Nine as NCC-70637, it's unknown whether this was the same situation or whether the intention of the production staff changed later.
      • NAR: Federation non-Starfleet. Typically seen on civilian ships.
      • The full list of Federation prefixes is: NCC (commissioned Starfleet) note , NX (experimental)note , NAR (civilian merchant), NDT (civilian transport), NC (civilian general), NSP (Vulcan science), NFT (civilian transport), and NGA (commercial transport), with N appearing to be simply the Federation national prefix for all registry numbers.
    • Klingon ships are IKS, Imperial Klingon Ship. Prior to its establishment in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the prefix "IKC" (for "Imperial Klingon Cruiser", was heard in Klingon radio chatter in Star Trek: The Motion Picture). This was also recorded in Michael Okuda's Star Trek Encyclopedia.
    • Romulan ships use IRW (Imperial Romulan Warbird).
    • When Kirk and company fell into the Mirror Universe, they found themselves aboard the ISS Enterprise (Imperial Star Ship).
    • Star Trek: Enterprise, taking place before the birth of The Federation, sometimes has Earth ships with prefixes besides USS. Cargo ships, for example, use ECS (Earth Cargo Ship), such as the Mayweather family's ship: ECS Horizon.
  • Babylon 5: Earth Force ships are E.A.S. for Earth Alliance Starship. None of the non-human races seem to bother with the whole thing.
  • Andromeda's registry is XMC-10-284. Each High Guard ship class has its three letter code, but the personal number is given for only a few.
  • Firefly: Alliance ships are preceded by I.A.V. (possibly Interstellar/Interplanetary Alliance Vessel).
  • Space: Above and Beyond: the Kennedy-class space carriers took the current hull classification for a nuclear carrier, CVN, and put an 'S' (for Space) in front resulting in SCVN. Saratoga is SCVN-2812.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): As a Battlestar, Galactica has the hull-number BS-75. A flag seen aboard the ship lists "BSG-75", which Ron Moore has stated means "Battlestar Group", a spacefaring equivalent to a US Navy carrier group, with Galactica serving as the flagship.
  • The Expanse: The Mars Congressional Republic Navy is used as a prefix to such battleships as the Donnager or other ships of the line.
  • The Orville: Union exploratory ships have the registry prefix "ECV", while heavy cruisers have "LCV". All ships use "USS" in front of their proper names, presumably standing for "Union Star Ship".

     Tabletop Games  

  • In BattleTech, each faction's interstellar warship fleet have their own prefixes, such as ComStar's "CSV" (Com Star Vessel). However, alphanumeric ID codes are rarely ever used.

     Video Games  

  • Ace Combat has OFS for Osean ships like the OFS Kestrel, probably standing for Osean Federation Ship.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Systems Alliance military ships are designated as SSV (Systems Alliance Space Vehicle). Notably, the Normandy SR-2 never used it while it was operating under Cerberus.
    • Civilian ships seem to use MSV (Merchant Space Vessel), such as MSV Strontium Mule.
    • Turian ships apparently use PFS, possibly Palaven Fleet/Forces Ship.
    • Additionally, the prefix AML is seen, though what it stands for is unknown. The name of the ship in question, Demeter suggests it's used by human ships.
    • The only hull number ever given is for the Normandy herself, SR-1 and SR-2 for the first and second ones respectively, which stands for Stealth Reconnaissance.
  • Star Trek Online: In addition to canon prefixes, the game adds a few new ones.
    • Romulan Republic ships use the prefix RRW, apparently for Romulan Republic Warbird.
    • Gaul's flagship in Delta Rising is identified as the VSW Vozroz. VSW most likely stands for Vaadwaur Supremacy Warship.
  • Halo: Ship names in the UNSC navy are all preceded by UNSC, which, of course, means United Nations Space Command.
  • Wing Commander: The ships of the Terran Confederation use TCS for Terran Confederation Ship.
  • In Civilization II, a civilization's interstellar spaceship was called "x.S.S. yyyy", where x is the civilization name's initial and yyyy the leader's name.
  • In Escape Velocity, while named ships of the Confederation use the prefix U.S.S., named Rebel ships are prefixed by R.S.S. In the Thematic Sequel Override the United Earth uses U.E.S.
  • The FreeSpace universe designates ships by faction, race, and class. Hence the GTD Orion is a Galactic Terran Destroyer, and the PVC Aten is a Parliamentary Vasudan Cruiser. There may also be a URA Moron if you try to confuse the automatic ship numbering.
  • Federation military vessels in the Metroid universe all carry the prefix GFS (Galactic Federation Ship). The personal spacecraft of bounty hunters in the series (Sylux's Delano 7 from Metroid Prime: Hunters as well as the various Hunter-class gunships from the Prime series) do not use this prefix, as they're owned by civilians, albeit under contract to the Feds.
  • Stellaris generates a prefix based on a civilisation's name (which, in turn, is generated based on the primary species' name and the government type) at the time it is generated. You can change it when you design a civilisation as with every other name or title, although unlike civilisation name you can not change it manually once the game has startednote .

     Web Comic  

  • In Schlock Mercenary, merchantships get the designation MR, for Merchant Registry. Since ships are usually referred to as 'she', much fun is had among merchant sailors by pronouncing the prefix as 'Mister' and using the pronoun in the same sentence.

     Western Animation  

     Real Life  

  • In the US armed forces' standard aircraft designation system, a Space Plane is denoted by the letter S. There are as yet no operational spaceplanes, though the "MS-1A" is in the works.
    • There is the SR-71 Blackbird, but it is not a space plane, but rather a high-altitude and high-speed reconnaissance plane. Supposedly the "SR" designation came about due to the President messing up the designation when publicly announcing the plane's existence. Rather than embarrass the Commander in Chief, the Air Force just rolled with it.
  • Occasionally used in reference to Real Life ships used by countries that don't use such prefixes, such as the Empire of Japan. When describing actions involving the forces of Japan and the Allied navies (typically the US Navy), Japanese ships often get described as IJN Ship Name, to be consistent with the usage of HMS or USS Ship Name.