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  #1  
Old 13-07-2007, 10:33
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Default Ship Names

Ever wondered why a ship is named what it is? I'll be posting several threads explaining some of the more interesting name histories. Some are named after historical figures, some after battles and events. Some are amazingly old, some are surprisingly new.

I hope it makes interesting reading.
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Old 19-07-2007, 22:46
nechelle nechelle is offline
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Originally Posted by kc View Post
Ever wondered why a ship is named what it is? I'll be posting several threads explaining some of the more interesting name histories. Some are named after historical figures, some after battles and events. Some are amazingly old, some are surprisingly new.

I hope it makes interesting reading.
hi was wondering if you have ever come across a victor walker who served on hms shackleton,he is my grandfather have never met him and trying to trace him
many thanks
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  #3  
Old 04-08-2007, 14:20
Vivienne Vivienne is offline
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Default Re: Ship Names

Is it possible for you to tell me please what was the reason in 1953 for naming the ship HMS Duchess my late father proudly served on. Thank You!
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  #4  
Old 18-12-2007, 13:22
stontamar stontamar is offline
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Default Re: Ship Names

Hi Vivienne

The first warship named DUCHESS was the captured French 24 gun ship DUCHESSE taken in 1652 and renamed when brought into English service. She was sold in 1654.

The ships naming committee, when choosing names for the Daring Class destroyers, must have considered HMS DUCHESS was a suitable name to give to one of these fine destroyers and she therefore became the 4th ship, apart from three requisitioned vessels, to carry this name and perpetuate the four Battle Honours awarded to her predecessors.

PORTLAND 1653
GABBARD 1653
SCHEVENINGEN 1653
BARFLEUR 1692

Regards

stontamar
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  #5  
Old 30-05-2008, 23:47
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Default Re: Ship Names

While in Chatham Dockyard in 1955 serving aboard the frigate WHITESAND BAY, I came across the ship named TRUELOVE, I bet any matelot with the hat tally with that name got some stick ashore, why give a fighting ship a name such as that?

Dave
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  #6  
Old 30-05-2008, 23:50
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Default Re: Ship Names

Wasn`t Truelove a minesweeper? Perhaps they truly loved to sweep mines?!
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  #7  
Old 19-06-2008, 18:47
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Default Re: Ship Names

If Truelove was a sweeper the the cap tally could just have H M Minesweeper on it. That is what a lot of the lads on H M S Pickle did to avoid embarrassment.

Ken
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  #8  
Old 19-06-2008, 22:13
Joseph Joseph is offline
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Default Re: Ship Names

Why do that when onboard 'HMS Pickle' such a famous ship, celebrated every year by Senior Rates in the Royal navy. Any mention of Trafalgar is good for a beer.

Regards Charles
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  #9  
Old 27-07-2008, 14:50
doug.birch doug.birch is offline
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Default Re: Ship Names

They often use names of former ships, Fencer,my ship was re-issued to a training Patrol Boat, but unfortunately they,put GAY in front of it,thus it became Gay Fencer,who picks such names.Doug.Birch Ex.Fencer

Last edited by doug.birch : 27-07-2008 at 14:51. Reason: comma
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  #10  
Old 28-07-2008, 00:49
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Default Re: Ship Names

I remember reading years ago that RN ship's helicopters also have names that relate to the ship. I guess that explains why HMS Brazen had a helicopter named Hussy.
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  #11  
Old 28-07-2008, 14:25
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In the days when the Gay (Gas turbine engined) and Dark (Deltic engined) series of Patrol Boats were being experimented with the word gay had a different meaning. I remember going to a variety show at the Pompey Empire called, 'Let's go Gay with Davy Kaye'. Word meanings and connotations change with time which is possibly why an item that is flammable is described as being inflammable.

Ken
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  #12  
Old 31-01-2009, 07:25
Woodbutcher Woodbutcher is online now
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Wink Re: Ship Names

HMS Brazen should have had another helicopter, they could have called that one, Bitch. Dagwood
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  #13  
Old 31-01-2009, 17:42
Tiornu Tiornu is offline
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Default Re: Ship Names

There was an HMS Cuirass. Fotrunately it was a small requisitioned craft. Otherwise I suspect it would have been the cause of many a bar fight.
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  #14  
Old 31-01-2009, 17:59
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Default Re: Ship Names

I always like the rationale Jim Lamb (James B. Lamb of "The Corvette Navy" fame) put forward - psychological warfare and morale boosting. The crew of the good ship "Buttercup" for example would feel slightly superior having sunk a U-Boat with such a silly-named ship, and I can't imagine the Germans would feel too proud about it either.

The humiliation of being sunk or damaged by a "Snowdrop", or a "Begonia"!!

Simon
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  #15  
Old 31-01-2009, 18:46
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Default Re: Ship Names

Be thankful the Flower Class never used Pansy. The story goes that the name Weston-super-Mare was considered but decided against because matelots would call it Aggie-on-horseback! Just a passing note previous ships I served in have had their names re-used in my lifetime, they are :- Vanguard, Ark Royal, Vigilant, Tyne, Unicorn.
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  #16  
Old 31-01-2009, 22:14
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Default Re: Ship Names

Keith, Hms Heartease 'flower class' was laid down as Hms Pansy but her name was changed prior to launch.


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  #17  
Old 01-02-2009, 00:56
Tiornu Tiornu is offline
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Default Re: Ship Names

There were actually three ships named Pansy during WWI, not to mention a Pansy III.
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  #18  
Old 18-07-2009, 07:52
dennis a feary dennis a feary is offline
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Ceylon DAVID, HMS TRUELOVE was named after a RN Captain of that name (I believe) !
He served in some great battle (say) with NELSON / St Vincent ??
T'is only a `thought' that I offer from `back of brain' !!

Sadsac
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  #19  
Old 07-10-2009, 23:04
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Default Re: Ship Names

Thankfully, the RCN opted to name Canadian 'Flowers' after communities. The only exception was a group of ten built for the RN but turned over to their Canadian crews and retaining their names. Even still, they were not overly feminine: Bittersweet, Fennel, Windflower, Snowberry to name but a few. Actually, if one reads the story of LCdr Shadforth and his escapades the night before sailing out of St Johns Nfld with Spikenard only to be sunk 9 days later; 10 Feb 1942, the story is most notably macho-ish!
I think the only oddball in the RCN seems to have been HMCS Loos, a Battleclass trawler serving during the First World War.
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  #20  
Old 07-11-2009, 09:41
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Default Re: Ship Names

From time to time, I like dipping into "The Naval Review" volumes, both as a source of reference, but also the correspondence often has the controvesy and banter of this Forum. I thought these exchanges from the 1935 volume were interesting ....

Quote:
The recent decision to alter certain ships' names from something of classical origin to names of towns is regretted by the writer of this article. The naming of ships after towns and counties may (or may not) give gratification to the locality concerned. But that is not the only consideration. There is the effect on the bluejacket to be taken into account, and I suspect that a territorial nomenclature is distasteful to those who man our ships. I imagine that their distaste is probably more unconscious than conscious, but I believe it is there all the same, and it is likely that a referendum would bring it out. It arises, I believe, from the natural desire of a sailor to feel that his ship is all his own. This sense of exclusive association-I don't say ownership-is weakened if he feels he is sharing his ship in however small a way with some outside body, and this I suggest is what happens in the case of county-class and town-class ships. The sailor inevitably feels that the town or county after which the ship is named is a rival for that claim on the ship which he feels should be all his own.

The writer remembers reading an article in the R.U.S.I. Journal a year or two 'ago in which very similar opinions were expressed about the territorial titles of regiments. The author of that article considered that the old practice of calling regiments by a number was far more satisfactory, and for the very same reason that a numbered regiment felt that it shared its title with no one else.

If then the claims of the officers and men who man the ships are in conflict with those of the towns and counties after whom the ships are named, on which side should the decision be given ? Even supposing the claims of each side were equally strongly held, can it be doubted for a moment that the paramount consideration should be the feelings of those who spend their lives in the ships ? I say advisedly, " supposing the claims of each side were equally strongly held." It is however at least open to doubt whether a " name-ship " makes any really strong appeal to a county or town. There is at least one case onrecord where the lord lieutenant of a county refused to admit that a county-class cruiser was named after the county, but stated that she was named after the duke who took his title from the county.

If, then, town and county names for ships are really unsatisfactory, what are likely to constitute the most desirable names ? I suggest that people's names, even possibly great admirals' names, are open to the same drawback as towns and counties. I suggest that the ideal names of ships are those which are entirely impersonal, and that probably the most effective are those indicative of qualities or characteristics. Names such as Powerful, Terrible, Daring, Invincible, Indomitable, Dreadnought ; all
such names carry a stimulus with them. While the captain of the Daring can call to his men to live up to the ship's name, the captain of the Durham cannot expect to evoke much enthusiasm by calling upon his ship's company to remember the distressed areas.

Next after names indicative of qualities, I should put previous ships' names of whatever nature, so long as they are impersonal. Birds, animals, objects of mythology, naval battles, all are probably equally good.

The writer has a personal preference for the more ancient ship names,mostly an account of their more poetic sound, such as Swiftsure and Bonaventure ; while it is with almost a feeling of grievance that he reflects that for centuries the magic name Golden Hind has not figured in the Navy List.

Phoenix
And here was the first reply .........

Quote:
I agreewith Phoenix, though it is only fair to remember that town and county names are as old as the 17th century, and many have famous records-e.g., the Monmouth, Bedford, Gloucester, Southampton. Surely the great thing is to keep alive the names of famous ships, which I fancy our masters try to do? I would rather see the names of famous flagships-e.g., Barfieur, Britannia, Formidable, Prince George, Revenge, Royal George, Royal Sovereign, Saint George, Triumph, Vanguard, Venerable-than the names of the admirals themselves.

Here are some " impersonal " names in the navy of Queen Anne, some of them inherited from her predecessors and all well known :- Bornadventure, Centurion, Dreadnought, Eagle, Garland, Lion, Nightingale, Pearl, Phoenix, Resolution, Revenge, Ruby, Sapphire, Superb, Swiftsure, Tiger, Triton, Triecm$h, Vanguard, Warspight. I do not forget, of course, that one or two of them are at present in use.

H.I
Since these exchanges, another World War and other naval exploits such as the Falklands have passed. Do these views still ring true tioday I wonder?
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  #21  
Old 07-11-2009, 09:49
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Default Re: Ship Names

Another 'post' on the ship's names debate in The Naval Review 1935 ....

Quote:
While agreeing in the main with the remarks of Phoenix on this subject, I feel that there is another important consideration to be examined which has so far not been dealt with.

There is, as Phoenix points out, a strong case for discontinuing the naming of warships after counties, especially those inland, having scarcely any connection with the sea, and probably caring even less
about it. Even with those on our seaboard, only a very limited number of their population lead a seafar'ing life, while by the diversity of their means of livelihood they cannot, as a whole, feel much proprietary interest in a ship called after them.

On the other hand the case of the seaport towns, large or small, is surely very different. In war time the Navy is very greatly dependent on the men of the Royal Naval Reserve, who come to a great extent from the ports and fishing villages around our coasts. When one considers the work done by these men ]in the late war, in anti-submarine, convoying and coast patrols, and the great number of them who lost their lives in the Navy, it is surely quite appropriate that their memory should be honoured in this way. Nor do I believe that any sailor would object to the nomenclature in these circumstances; I certainly should not.

Moreover, I consider that the seaport towns feel a very definite interest and pride in the naming of a ship after them. I can quote an example. During the last autumn cruise of the Home Fleet my ship
called for a few days at just such a town on the East Coast of Scotland. After a civic lunch which I attended, the Mayor, in his speech, referred to the recent naming of a sloop after another town a little way down the coast. While in no way denying the right of this last town, he said that he considered the claims of his own were equally good. He gave figures showing the great number of its population who had served in the R.N.R. and lost their lives in the Great War and of the large percentage enrolled at the present day. He told of the great interest that was felt in the Navy, and, judging by the reception we were given, I have no doubt of it. He said, also, that he had written to the Admiralty stating these views, and thought this a fitting occasion on which to express them. I am pleased to see that he has since had his wish.

This, admittedly, is a single instance, and forms the limit of my experience; but I feel that what is true of one port is probably true of another, and that, in any case, in these days, it is a good thing to give
the seafaring taxpayer a personal interest in his source of protection.

Veng
and finally ....

Quote:
The article and comment on this subject in the February number of The Naval Review expresses very much what has been in the mind of the writer for a long time. Every year, in common with certain others interested in the same subject, he has made out a list of names for the new ships, only to be disappointed when the names are announced! The main complaint the writer has to make is in the introduction of new names which, while suitable in many cases, are used in preference to older names which still remain unused. Some names are definitely inappropriate: Glowworm is a glaring example of this.

It is worth while scanning the lists in detail; for, as is evident from the remarks of Phoenix and H.I , the subject is one which excites interest in the Service and is of some importance. The county cruisers were well named with one exception-the Shropshire. There is no reason why a ship should not bear this name; but there are plenty of good reasons why such names as Monmouth, Bedford, Essex and Lancaster should have had preference. There can be very little excuse for introducing the name Sheffield, though it is admitted that it may be good propaganda. It is suggested that, as ships are paid for by the taxpayer, it is only reasonable to pay him the compliment of naming some after towns and counties. But there is no need to break fresh ground.

When we come to the destroyers, however, we find some very unsuitable names. The revival of Tudor names is all very nice, but have not some of them a somewhat sentimental savour? Dainty is a yacht like name well suited to a surveying ship, perhaps ; but to a destroyer no ! The A, B, and C classes were all well named, but when we come to the D's we find Dainty, Delight and Duchess: it is suggested that Desperate, Dosher and Driver would have been more in keeping with the nature of the vessels. Is Escapade a suitable substitute for Espiegle? As the Naval Correspondent of The Times pointed out, the name means " a mischievous caprice." In the movements of ships a short time ago the name was given as Esplanade ! All the F names are good, but the G class contains Grenade and Gallant, most suitable for destroyers, it is agreed (though Glowworm is not !), but why not Gadfly , Garnet, Ghurka, Gorgon or Goshawk? Again, in the H class we have Hereward, Hostile and Hyperion. The last is not even appropriate, as the Titan who originated the name had no particular connection with the sea and only one ship has ever borne the name before. Why have the fine destroyer names of Haughty and Hornet been omitted? Hound, Hope and Highflyer might well have been revived.

The scheme of naming the new minesweeping sloops after the old torpedo gunboats is excellent, but the small coastal sloops named after birds might well have received more striking names such as Lively, Attack and Menace. Even if the bird names were good, surely there is no excuse for introducing new ones such as Pufin. One visualizes a football match between the Pufflin and the Glowworm with the supporters on the touchline urging on their sides with cries of " Play up Puffins!" and " Come on Glowworms!" On the whole, taking the country at large and the Service in particular, it ,is probable that the most popular selection of names for the new cruisers would have been Dreadnought, Ocean, Swiftsure, Triumph and Formidable.

In conclusion, may we hope to see some " Royal " names again soon ? Royal George and Prince of Wales are names wich should not be long absent from the Navy List.

TEDIU
The comment about naming a ship Sheffield in the second paragraph of TEIDU's post has a big OUCH factor now ..!!
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  #22  
Old 26-11-2009, 01:51
doug.birch doug.birch is offline
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Default Re: Ship Names

Hi, Dreanought.The long forgotten name was reclaimed when they called the shore base in Sydney HMS Golden Hind. Doug. Birch
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Old 03-12-2009, 07:54
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Default Re: Ship Names

So here's an American "former naval person" sticking his nose in. One of my favorite books is Manning and Walker's "British Warship Names." I enjoy reading the introductory passages and of course the dictionary part itself is a real romp through history, ancient and modern.

I've always felt the British have a leg up in finding fine names for warships. The dreanoughts overflow with the names of mighty warriors of the past and names that really sound like they belong to the type of ship they represent. Thunderer, Monarch, Conqueror...of course a Warspite to confuse those who don't read the history books...Bellrophon, Vanguard, Superb, Swiftsure...America was never able to follow that pattern. Of course the great latin and greek references don't hurt either. Later on, it got a bit squirrely, but with huge numbers of ships needing names, that's not surprising.

The US used to have a good system going, even though it relied on rather dry state and city names, along with a few famous battles, including those with some people from across the Atlantic early on, things like that. Nowadays, it seems every other ship has to be named for an idiot politician, which I dislike intensely. Give me an Emperor of India any day...
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Old 12-12-2009, 16:36
Ednamay Ednamay is offline
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Talking Re: Ship Names

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Boyer View Post
So here's an American "former naval person" sticking his nose in. One of my favorite books is Manning and Walker's "British Warship Names." I enjoy reading the introductory passages and of course the dictionary part itself is a real romp through history, ancient and modern.

I've always felt the British have a leg up in finding fine names for warships. The dreanoughts overflow with the names of mighty warriors of the past and names that really sound like they belong to the type of ship they represent. Thunderer, Monarch, Conqueror...of course a Warspite to confuse those who don't read the history books...Bellrophon, Vanguard, Superb, Swiftsure...America was never able to follow that pattern. Of course the great latin and greek references don't hurt either. Later on, it got a bit squirrely, but with huge numbers of ships needing names, that's not surprising.

The US used to have a good system going, even though it relied on rather dry state and city names, along with a few famous battles, including those with some people from across the Atlantic early on, things like that. Nowadays, it seems every other ship has to be named for an idiot politician, which I dislike intensely. Give me an Emperor of India any day...

Some of these very old names had some very odd 'transliterations', the only one I can remember was 'Billy Ruffian' for Bellerophon!!

Edna
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Old 12-12-2009, 19:04
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Default Re: Ship Names

Edna, others included:-
Agmemnon - 'Aggie Weston'
Superb - 'Super B'
Flamingo - 'Flaming O'
Sharpshooter - unmentionable in polite society.
Lots of others that I've forgotten.

Ken
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