Wednesday, 9 February 2011

STYLE GUIDE: How to Write a Ship's Name

1. Identification
In the absence of any grammatical or punctuational emphasis, vessel names would be hard to distinguish in written prose, because they are often named after people ("Mary Rose"), animals ("The Red Fox"), places ("Arendal")  or other things ("Time Bandit").

For this reason there are four generally accepted ways to identify a vessel in writing (n.b. as proper nouns ship's names should always begin with a capital letter):
i) Place the name in double quote marks - "Leopard 1" (recommended; as used in the Law Reports)
ii) Capitalise the name - LEOPARD 1 (also common in the industry; if used, quote marks are unnecessary)
iii) Italicise the name - Leopard 1 (the norm outside the industry; used by novelists, newspapers etc.)
iv) Underline the name - Leopard 1 (also non-industry; some publishers prefer underlining to italics)

2. No Need for the 'the'
You do not have to put 'the' before a vessel's name, unless it is part of the name itself. For example, if a ship called "Titan" had entered a port, it is better to say ' "Titan" entered the port ', rather than 'The "Titan" entered the port'.

This rule can be difficult when vessels are named after certain things. For instance, where a vessel is named "Emperor", it is very tempting to refer to it as ' the "Emperor" ', as you would refer to a real Emperor. But we have to remember that it is a name and not a description or title. Imagine you called your cat Emperor, you would not say 'the Emperor came around the corner', you would just say 'Emperor came around the corner'. The same rule applies.

3. Vessel Prefixes
Every vessel either has, or can be given, a prefix to identify the type of ship (a list of the most common is provided below).

Generally you should only use the prefix if it has become part of the recognised name, as with "RMS Titanic". It is not necessary to describe a bulk carrier called "Deep Blue" as MV "Deep Blue" to tell people the vessel has a motor.

If you are citing a ship prefix there is no need to put a slash or full stops in the prefix (it is well known that they are acronyms) - so RMS rather than R.M.S. and MY rather than M/Y.

Common Prefixes:
AHT - Anchor Handling Tug
AHTS - Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessel
DSV - Diving Support Vessel
FV - Fishing Vessel
HLV - Heavy Lift Vessel
HSC - High Speed Craft
MF - Motor Ferry
MFV - Motor Fishing Vessel
MS - Motor Ship *
MSY - Motor Sailing Yacht
MT - Motor Tanker
MV - Motor Vessel *
MY - Motor Yacht
NS - Nuclear Ship
OSV - Offshore Support Vessel
RMS - Royal Mail Ship**
RV - Research Vessel
SS - Steamship
SY - Sailing Yacht

* Motor Ship and Motor Vessel mean the same thing and either can be applied to the same vessels.
** Titanic seems to have the wrong designation as "RMS Titanic" as it was an ocean liner carrying passengers, but the RMS is correct as at the time it was given the prestigious right to carry Royal Mail to North America. As a result it was able to place RMS before its name and fly the Royal Mail standard whilst underway. On a more mechanical level it was a steam-engine powered ship, so some people still call it "SS Titanic".


panliner shipping 8 February 2014 at 06:50  

thanks for sharing to write the ship name.

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Beech Walker 22 December 2017 at 05:30  

Can a sailing boat built and Named as Alevtina & Tuy along with five others which were all built in Russia in 1995 be renamed HMS Pickle ?

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