Sci military naval faq, Part b general Terminology & Definitions Revised 28 April 2002 Version 56 Compiled and Maintained by

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sci.military.naval FAQ, Part B
General Terminology & Definitions

Revised 28 April 2002
Version 1.56
Compiled and Maintained by:
Andrew Toppan
SMN FAQ Main Page:

Contents of this section:
Section B.1: Common Internet abbreviations
Section B.2: Common naval abbreviations
Section B.3: Naval vessel designations (USA/NATO)
Section B.4: Naval vessel designations (USSR/Russia)
Section B.5: Warship naming
Section B.6: Meaning of warship status categories
Section B.8: Ship Displacements
Section B.9: Conversion factors

Section B.1: Common Internet abbreviations

:-) = Smile

:) = Smile

:-( = Frown

:( = Frown

;-) = Wink

;) = Wink

AFAIK = As Far As I Know

AKA = Also Known As

BTW = By The Way

FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions

FWIW = For What It's Worth

FYI = For Your Information

IIRC = If I Remember Correctly

IMHO = In My Humble Opinion

IMNSHO = In My Not So Humble Opinion

IMO = In My Opinion

ISTR = I Seem To Recall/Remember

ROTFL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing

WRT = With Respect To

YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary

Section B.2: Common naval abbreviations

This is a list of the most common abbreviation used in naval discussions. It is not a comprehensive list, nor does it include very common abbreviations such as US, UK, ft. and km. See for a more comprehensive list of abbreviations and acronyms. See below for ship designations.

AA = Anti-Aircraft

AAA = Anti-Aircraft Artillery

AAM = Air-to-Air Missile

AAW = Anti-Aircraft Warfare

AEW = Airborne Early Warning

ALCM = Air-Launched Cruise Missile

AMRAAM = Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (Sparrow replacement)

AP = Armour Piercing (shell/shot)

ARPA = Advanced Research Projects Agency (USA)

ASM = Air-to-Surface Missile (sometimes Anti-Ship Missile)

ASROC = Anti-Submarine Rocket (rocket-boosted torpedo or depth charge)

ASW = Anti-Submarine Warfare

ASuW = Anti-Surface Warfare

AVGas = Aviation Gasoline

AVMF = Aviatsiya Voenno-Morsko Flota (Naval Air Force) (Russia)

AWACS = Airborne Warning and Control System

bhp = brake horsepower

BPDMS = Basic Point Defense Missile System (Sea Sparrow)

BU = Broken Up

BuShips = US Bureau of Ships

CAG = Carrier Air Group (obsolete) or Air Wing Commander (derived

from Commander, Air Group)

Cal = Caliber

CAP = Combat Air Patrol

CAS = Close Air Support

CAW = Carrier Air Wing (obsolete)

CEC = Cooperative Engagement Capability

CIC = Combat Information Center

CIS = Commonwealth of Independent States

CIWS = Close In Weapons System

CNO = Chief of Naval Operations

CO = Commanding Officer

COD = Carrier On-Board Delivery

CODAG = Combined Diesel and Gas (turbine) propulsion

CODOG = Combined Diesel or Gas (turbine) propulsion

CODLAG = Combined Diesel-Electric and Gas (turbine) propulsion

COGAG = Combined Gas (turbine) and Gas (turbine) propulsion

COGOG = Combined Gas (turbine) or Gas (turbine) proplulsion

COH = Complex Overhaul

COIN = Counter-Insurgency

Comm = Commissioned

CONAS = Combined Nuclear And Steam (turbine) propulsion

COSAG = Combined Steam (turbine) and Gas (turbine) propulsion

CSAR = Combat Search and Rescue

CT = Conning Tower

CTOL = Conventional Take-Off and Landing

CVW = Carrier Air Wing

DARPA = Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (USA) (now ARPA)

DASH = Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter

DBS = Doppler Beam Sharpening

DC = Depth Charge

decom = decommission(ed)

D/F or DF = Direction-Finder, Direction-Finding

DOD = Department of Defense (USA)

DP = Dual Purpose (gun)

ECCM = Electronic Counter-Countermeasures

ECM = Electronic Countermeasures

ehp = equivalent horsepower

ELINT = Electronic Intelligence

EMP = Electromagnetic Pulse

EPM = Electronic Protective Measures (i.e. ECCM)

ESM = Electronic Support/Surveillance Measures

EW = Electronic Warfare

FAC = Forward Air Control

FCS = Fire Control System

FLIR = Forward-Looking Infrared

FOD = Foreign Object Damage

FRAM = Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization

FSU = Former Soviet Union


FY = Fiscal Year

GB = Great Britain

GFCS = Gun Fire Control System

GIUK = Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (gap)

GP = General Purpose

GPS = Global Positioning System

GRP = Glass Reinforced Plastic (fiberglass)

GT = Gas Turbine

GUPPY = Greater Underwater Propulsive Power (submarine modification)

HA = High Angle (gun)

HC = High Capacity (shell) (high explosive, for shore bombardment)

HE = High Explosive (shell or warhead)

H/F or HF = High Frequency

HF/DF = High Frequency Direction Finding (for ASW)

HMS = His/Her Majesty's Ship (UK)

HMAS = His/Her Majesty's Australian Ship

HMCS = His/Her Majesty's Canadian Ship

HMNZS = His/Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship

HP = High Pressure (usually steam)

hp = horsepower

HUK = Hunter-Killer (ASW group)

ICIR = In Commission, In Reserve

IFF = Identification Friend-or-Foe

IFR = in-flight refuelling

ihp = indicated horsepower

IJN = Imperial Japanese Navy

INS = Inertial Navigation System

IR = Infrared

ISAR = Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar

JATO = Jet-Assisted Take-Off

JMSDF = Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (Japanese Navy)

JPATS = Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (T-34-T-37 replacement)

JTIDS = Joint Tactical Information Distribution System

LAMPS = Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (ASW helicopter)

LANTIRN = Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (pod)

LGB = Laser-Guided Bomb

LP = Low Pressure (usually steam)

LTA = Lighter Than Air (blimp/aerostat)

MAD = Magnetic Anomaly Detection

MARAD = Maritime Administration (USA)

MIRV = Multiple Independently Targetted Re-entry Vehicle

MG = Machine Gun

MoD = Ministry of Defense (UK)

MPA = Maritime Patrol Aircraft

MSC = Military Sealift Command (USA)

MSTS = Military Sea Transportation Service (USA) (now MSC)

MTB = Motor Torpedo Boat

MTS = Moored Training Ship

NAS = Naval Air Station

NATF = Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter

NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NAVSAT = Navigation Satellite

NBC = Nuclear/Biological/Chemical Warfare

NDRF = National Defense Reserve Fleet (USA)

NECPA = National Emergency Command Post Afloat

NGFS = Naval Gunfire Support

nm = nautical mile(s)

NRF = Naval Reserve Force (USA)

NRO = National Reconniassance Office (USA)

NSSM = NATO Sea Sparrow Missile

NTDS = Naval Tactical Data System

NVG = Night Vision Goggles

NVR = Naval Vessels Register (USA)

OPV = Offshore Patrol Vessel

PDMS = Point Defense Missile System

pdr = pounder

PGM = Precision Guided Munition(s)

psi = pounds per square inch (pressure)

PWR = Pressurized Water Reactor

QF = Quick Firing (gun)

RAF = Royal (British) Air Force

RAN = Royal Australian Navy

RATO = Rocket-Assisted Take-Off

RCN = Royal Canadian Navy

RCOH = Refuelling/Comprehensive Overhaul

RCS = Radar Cross-Section

R&D = Research & Development

Recce = Reconnaissance

Recon = Reconnaissance

RIO = Radar Intercept Officer

RF = Rapid Fire (gun)

RN = Royal Navy (UK)

ROH = Regular Overhaul

rpgpm = rounds per gun per minute

rpm = rounds per minute (gun) or revolutions per minute

RPV = Remote-Piloted Vehicle

RRF = Ready Reserve Fleet (USA)

SAM = Surface-to-Air Missile

SAR = Search and Rescue

SAR = Synthetic Aperture Radar

SATCOM = Satellite Communication

SEAD = Suppression of Enemy Air Defences

SHAR = Sea Harrier

shp = shaft horsepower

SLAM = Standoff Land Attack Missile

SLAR = Sideways-Looking Airborne Radar

SLBM = Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile

SLEP = Service Life Extention Program

SLUF = Short Little Ugly F***er (A-7)

SOSUS = Sound Surveillance Sustem

SP = Single Purpose

SR = Strike Rescue (same as CSAR)

ST = Steam Turbine

STOL = Short Take-Off and Landing

STOVL = Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing

str = stricken

SUBROC = Submarine (ASW) Rocket

TACAMO = Take Charge and Move Out (strategic communications aircraft)

TACAN = Tactical Air Navigation Aid

TACTASS = Tactical Towed Array Surveillance System

TARPS = Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System

TASM = Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile

TCS = Television Camera System

TFCC = Tactical Flag Command Center

TFR = Terrain-Following Radar

TLAM = Tomahawk Land Attack Missile

TRAM = Target Recognition and Attack Multi-Sensor

TS = Training Ship

TT = Torpedo Tube(s)

UAV = Unmanned Air Vehicle

UHF = Ultra High Frequency

UNREP = Underway Replenishment

USAF = United States Air Force

USCG = United States Coast Guard

USCGC = United States Coast Guard Cutter

USMC = United States Marine Corps

USN = United States Navy

USNS = United States Naval Ship (civilian manned USN vessel)

USS = United States Ship (commissioned USN vessel)

VDS = Variable Depth Sonar

VIFF = Vectoring in Forward Flight (Harrier)

VLF = Very Low Frequency

VLS = Vertical (missile) Launch System

V/STOL = Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing

VTE = Vertical Triple Expansion (reciprocating engines)

VTO = Vertical Take-Off

VTOL = Vertical Take-Off and Landing

WIG = Wing In Ground-Effect

WSO = Weapon Systems Officer

W/T = Wireless Telegraphy (obsolete)

XO = Executive Officer (2nd in command)

Section B.3: Naval vessel designations (US/NATO)

This list is not comphrehensive; it includes only the more common designations. There are literally hundreds of obscure designations. See for more complete lists. These designations are US Navy designations, but they are often unofficially applied to foreign warships. Designations are listed by type, then in alphabetical order.

It is important to realize that these are designations, not abbreviations or acronyms. Thus, the letters may not individually "stand for" anything; it is the designation as a whole that has some assigned meaning or definition. These definitions can be changed without changing the letters of the designation.

  • Base Designations Suffixes are added to these to create complete designations. Where no suffix is used, the initial letter is used twice (i.e. DD). A suffix is often added to an existing two- or three-letter abbreviation at a later date (i.e. DDG, AGF, SSGN).

  • A -- Auxiliaries

  • B -- Battleship/battlecruiser

  • C -- Cruiser

  • CV -- Aircraft Carrier (originally a cruiser derivative)

  • D -- Destroyer

  • F -- Frigate

  • L -- Ampbibious ships (derived from "L" for "Landing")

  • M -- Mine craft

  • P -- Patrol craft

  • S -- Submarine

  • Y -- Yard craft

  • Suffixes These and others are added to base designations to create complete designations. Many suffixes (i.e. M) have many meanings; only the most common modern-usage meanings are listed. Suffix meanings as applied to yard (Y) craft are not included in this list.

  • A -- Attack or Auxiliary

  • B -- Ballistic Missile

  • C -- Command/Control

  • D -- Destroyer or Dock

  • E -- Escort (combatants); Ammunition (auxiliaries)

  • F -- Fast or Fleet or Refrigerated Stores or Fire Support

  • G -- Guided Missile (AAW) (large vessels) or Gun (small vessels)

  • H -- Helicopter or Hospital

  • K -- Cargo

  • L -- Light

  • M -- Missile (surface-to-surface) or Missile Tracking

  • N -- Nuclear Power

  • O -- Oil (tanker)

  • P -- Personnel/Troop Transport

  • R -- Repair or Replenishment or Roll-On/Roll-Off (cargo)

  • S -- Surveying or Salvage or Submarine

  • T -- Tug or Transport

  • U -- Utility

  • V -- Heavier-Than-Air (later fixed wing) Aircraft or Vehicle (transport)

  • W -- Water

  • Aircraft Carriers

  • CV -- Aircraft Carrier

  • CVA -- Attack Aircraft Carrier

  • CVAN -- Nuclear Powered Attack Aircraft Carrier

  • CVE -- Escort Aircraft Carrier

  • CVL -- Light Aircraft Carrier

  • CVN -- Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier

  • CVS -- ASW Aircraft Carrier (sometimes Seaplane Carrier, esp. WWII)

  • Major Surface Combatants

  • BB -- Battleship

  • BC -- Battlecruiser (unofficial)

  • CA -- Heavy Cruiser

  • CB -- Large Cruiser

  • CG -- Guided Missile Cruiser

  • CGN -- Nuclear Powered Guided Missile Cruiser

  • CL -- Light Cruiser

  • CLAA -- AntiAircraft Cruiser

  • DD -- Destroyer

  • DDG -- Guided Missile Destroyer

  • DE -- Destroyer Escort

  • FF -- Frigate

  • FFG -- Guided Missile Frigate

  • Submarines

  • SS -- Submarine

  • SSBN -- Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine

  • SSG -- Guided Missile Submarine

  • SSGN -- Nuclear Powered Guided Missile Submarine

  • SSK -- Hunter-Killler Submarine

  • SSN -- Nuclear Powered Submarine

  • SSQ -- Communications or ELINT submarine (unofficial)

  • SSQN --Nuclear Powered Communications or ELINT submarine (unofficial)

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