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Fantastic Ship Prefix

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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 — United States Ship — is a ship with the US Navy, HMS — His/Her Majesty's Ship — the Royal Navy, and RMS — a Royal Mail Ship owned by various operators under contract with the eponymous Royal Mail).

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. To avert this trope, see the Ship Prefix page on Wikipedia.


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    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 
  • Adventures of the ASV Hornet: Isabella's Space Adventure fanfic is set on the ASV Hornet, with ASV standing for Alliance Space Vessel.
  • 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.
  • Rocketship Voyager. The eponymous Retro Rocket has the prefix UNRS (United Nations Rocket Ship). Chakotay's ship the Valjean has the prefix NRS for Nuclear Rocket Ship, given that it was originally a civilian vessel converted into a Maquis warship.
  • Poké Wars has the prefix HNS (Human Navy Ship) for all Human-Legendary Coalition ships.

  • 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 Super-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.
  • Domina:
    • The only Necessarius ship seen is the NS Aquilo, which in context probably stands for either Necessarius Ship or Necessarian Ship. It's unclear how many ships they have (in fact, it's possible this is their only ship, as they are stated repeatedly to be low on naval power), so having any prefix at all is probably moot.
    • Rahab ships use the prefix RS, which presumably is short for Rahab Ship. Since all their ships are refurbished shipwrecks, they are usually referred to as "wrecks." The ones that are actually mobile are called ghost ships.
  • In Solar Warden, Solar Warden's ships use the prefix USSS, which presumably stands for United States Space/Star Ship. The most frequently mentioned one is the USSS Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter (or the Big-H), a massive spaceship carrier 400 yards long. The naming convention seems to be the names of former CIA (carriers) and NSA (cruisers) directors who were members of Majestic-12.
  • Hyperion Cantos: The Pax ships are given the prefix "HHS" for "His Holiness's Ship".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek:
    • While Starfleet ships use an existing prefix (USS, for United Star Ship), their registry numbers have various original designations which usually begin with 'N'. Here is a breakdown of Federation registries.
      • 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.
      • NA: 'A' possibly standing for "automated" as seen on the unmanned Texas-class.
      • NI: Starfleet Intelligence vessels.
      • NCIA: Ships operated by Section 31.
      • NDT (civilian transport)
      • NC (civilian general)
      • NSP (Vulcan science)
      • NFT (civilian transport)
      • NGA (commercial transport)
    • 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 either IRW (Imperial Romulan Warbird) or PWB (Praetorian War Bird). The latter appeared in computer displays but was never spoken aloud; given how clunky it is to say, most writers stick with IRW.
    • 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. In the unofficial wiki for the show, the Glorious Heritage class (of which the Andromeda Ascendant is a part) is also sometimes referred to as the XMC class.
  • 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.
    • Played with in the official designation of the Hammerheads: the SA-43 Endo/Exo-Atmospheric Attack Jet. As noted under Real Life, the modern US aircraft designation system does allot the letter S to designate a spacecraft, however the "vehicle type" designatornote  is traditionally placed last, just before the model number.
  • 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. UN warships use the prefix UNN (United Nations Navy), like the UNN Nathan Hale, while non-military ships use UNS (United Nations Ship), like the UNS Arboghast. The Mormon generation ship Nauvoo uses the prefix LDSS (Latter Day Saints Ship), although it gets the prefix OPAS (Outer Planets Alliance Ship) when it is hijacked and rechristened Behemoth.
  • 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.
  • There were a couple of old boardgames centered around the same fictional spaceship, Wreck of the B.S.M. Pandora and Voyage of the B.S.M. Pandora. "B.S.M." = "Biological Survey Mission".

    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.
    • Cardassian Union ships are designated CUV, likely Cardassian Union Vessel.
    • Dominion ships are designated DV, likely Dominion Vessel.
  • Halo:
    • Ship names in the UNSC navy are all preceded by UNSC, which, of course, means United Nations Space Command.
    • UNSC hull numbers use a mix of existing and made-up prefixes, the latter of which are as follows:
      • AE: Ammunition Ship
      • CFM: Mining Ship
      • CFV: Colony Ship
      • FS: Corvette
      • INF: Classification for UNSC Infinity
      • IX: Experimental
      • OWP: Orbital weapons platform, such as the Cairo
      • PRO: Prowler, stealth recon frigate
    • The Covenant has a different classification. Where Human ship classes are generally named after the lead ship, Covenant classes are designated by a string of three letters, a CCS-class battlecruise, for example. In this case, each letter is used to indicate the ship's capabilities or role.
  • 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 Cruisernote . 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 the default manually once the game has started — you'll have to edit the names of each and every vessel you own and build going forward.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon: Imperial ships use the prefix 'RLS' (Royal Light Ship, 'RLS' is also Robert Louis Stevenson's initials), where as Procyon ships use 'PSR' (Procyon Star Runner).
  • Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg has a new prefix for nearly every nation in the game. One of the most prominent is that the Syndicalist Union of Britain uses RNS (Republican Navy Ship). Averted, however, by New England, the Pacific States of America, and American Union State in the Second American Civil War - since they all claim to be the legitimate successor to the United States (which is still around to contest their claims), they officially use the same USS prefix as the United States, though informally, and especially in the context of the Second American Civil War, their ships are often referred to with the NES, PSS, and AUSS prefixes, respectively, to distinguish them from those under Federal control.
  • Azur Lane uses ship prefixes for nearly all ships, save for some of those that are from crossovers. Where relevant (Eagle Union (United States)note , Royal Navynote , Sardegna (Italy)note , and certain Ironblood ships (those from the Kaiserliche Marine)note ), the correct prefix is used, but many WWII combatants didn't actually use ship prefixes, so prefixes are made up.
    • The Sakura Empire (Imperial Japan) uses the common but non-historical IJN.
    • The Ironblood Fleet (Nazi Germany) uses KMS for KriegsMarine Ship.
    • Iris Libre (Free France) uses FFNF for Free French Naval Force.
    • The Vichya Dominion (Vichy France) uses MNS for Marine Nationale Ship.
    • The Northern Parliament (Soviet Union) uses SN, presumably for Soviet Navy.
    • The Dragon Empry (both Chinas) uses ROC for ships that were owned by Taiwan/Republic of China and PRAN for ships that were owned by the People's Republic of China, note 
    • Characters from the Neptunia crossover event use HDN for HyperDimension Neptunia.
    • "Universal" ships, which are so far limited to the "Bullin" ships that exist solely to be used to upgrade others, use UNIV for UNIVersal.
    • Averted by all collaboration event ships since the Neptunia crossover.
  • StarCraft has the United Earth Directorate use the prefix DSS (e.g. DSS Aleksander, the flagship of the UED Expeditionary Force), presumably meaning Directorate Space/Star Ship.
  • Mission Critical has the Alliance ships (at least American one) use the prefix USS (e.g. USS Lexington, USS Jericho), while UN ships use the prefix UNS (e.g. UNS Dharma). It's possible the UNS prefix is just how the Alliance refers to them, and UN itself doesn't use any.
  • Nexus: The Jupiter Incident: the ISA use the prefix ISF for its ships (e.g. ISF Hawking). Sometimes there's a typo and an ISA ship may appear with the prefix FSF. OSEC ships use the prefix OSF and Kissaki Syndicate vessels use KSK. SpaceTech and Noah ships don't bother with the whole thing.
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla has the EDS Hydra (for Earth Defense Ship) for the giant warship by the Earth Defense Force sent to..."pacify" the Martian rebellion.
  • All ships in Starsector receive generated names with prefixes appropriate to their faction. Those not affiliated with any faction receive an ISS designation for Independent Star Ship.
  • Tamriel Rebuilt: Imperial Navy ships use "TEM", implied but not outright stated to stand for Third Empire of Men. This is specifically the Navy; ships operated by other Imperial institutions (such as Census and Excise's fleet of coast guard cutters) go without a prefix.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
    • The mercenaries eventually start using the prefix TT-##, short for Tagon's Toughs, with the most recent addition at the time being TT-11. When the younger Tagon asks why this was necessary since they've never had more than three ships at a time, it's pointed out that eight ships have been lost under his direct command. It's also mentioned that, while not setting any records, Tagon is one of the few captains that have lost 3+ ships and managed to continue being a captain. The rest of the numbering (which eventually reaches TT-13) involves either actually having several ships, or major refits.
      Tagon: Are you counting the Touch-And-Go twice?

    Web Original 
  • In Look to the West, the various Hanovarian states have HIMS (His Imperial Majesty's Ship, the Empire of North America), HHMS (His Hibernian Majesty's Ship, the Kingdom of Ireland) and HMVS (His Venezuelan Majesty's Ship, the Kingdom of Venezuela). The British Royal Navy is outraged when the decree is passed that HMS is to be replaced by HBMS (His Britannic Majesty's Ship), reflecting that the Kingdom of Britain is becoming increasingly less seen as "the motherland" and more as "that other dominion the Emperor of North America has".
  • The SCP Foundation uses the prefix SCPS (presumably standing for SCP [Foundation] Ship) for its fleet of warships and research vessels.

    Western Animation 
  • Toonami: The program originated from the GPSS Absolution. Since Toonami was originally a spinoff of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which had shows being broadcast from Ghost Planet, this prefix probably stands for Ghost Planet Space Ship.
  • In 3-2-1 Penguins!, the Penguins' ship, the Rockhopper, uses U.F.P.S (United Federation Penguin Starship).

    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. Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay preferred the SR (Strategic Reconnaissance) designation and wanted the RS-71 to be named SR-71. Before the July speech, LeMay lobbied to modify Johnson's speech to read SR-71 instead of RS-71. The media transcript given to the press at the time still had the earlier RS-71 designation in places, creating the story that the president had misread the aircraft's designation.
  • Occasionally used in reference to Real Life ships used by countries that don't use such prefixes, such as the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany.
    • 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. Additionally, HIJMS (His Imperial Japanese Majesty's Ship) is much rarer, but not unheard of in historical accounts.
    • The Kriegsmarine is less standardized as to which prefix is used when trying to make them appear consistent with American and British warships, but DKM (Deutsches KriegsMarine), DKS (Deutsche Kriegsmarine Ship/Schiff), and KMS (KriegsMarine Ship/Schiff) have all been used.
      • The Kaiserreich used the prefix SMS (Seiner Majestät Schiff / His Majesty's Ship); you'll sometimes see this prefix applied to the ships of Nazi Germany as well, but this usage is technically incorrect as it should only apply to ships of the 1871-1918 Imperial era.