what does ss means on a boat

What Does SS Mean On A Boat? A Complete Explanation

Not everyone can correctly decipher the meaning of “SS” on a boat with just a quick glance. Because it was a common interpretation in the past, the common interpretation of these letters is “steamship.”

So what does SS mean these days on boats? Boats with the SS prefix are single-screw ships. In contrast to watercraft that come with double-screw propellers, single-screw ships have a single-screw propeller.

The meaning of the SS prefix on boats will be discussed in this article.

What Are Ship Prefixes?

Ship prefixes are a group of letters that are used to help identify the ship. To make it simple to identify a ship, these prefixes will be added before its name.

The term “ship” can refer to a number of things, including what a ship is used for, how it is propelled, or even who owns it.

These prefixes are now mainly applied to governmental ships. Despite the fact that civilian ships are still capable of having prefixes, prefixes are becoming less common.

Common Ship Prefixes

The prefixes you’ll see on boats, as was already mentioned, are primarily used to indicate what kind of boat it is. And even though different nations have different naming practices, the U.S. and the U.K. have similar practices. Some of the most commonly used ship prefixes include:


This prefix is among the most well-known ones. This prefix, which is most frequently used in the UK, designates a royal ship. It stands for either “Her Majesty’s Ship” or “His Majesty’s Ship”, depending on the gender of the monarch.

The majority of these nations belong to the Commonwealth. “HMS” may also be used in relation to submarines.

This prefix is primarily used in the UK, but it is also used to refer to royal ships in other nations. In the absence of that, some nations’ native tongues will have a different prefix variation. When referring to their royal ships, for instance, Germany uses the prefix SMS.

In 1789, the HMS Phoenix was the subject of the first use of the phrase. The HMS Belfast, HMS Victory, and HMS Queen Elizabeth are additional examples of HMS vessels.

what does ss means on a boat


Next, this prefix designates motor ships. However, the prefix MV, which stands for “motor vessel,” can also be used to refer to these vessels. Internal combustion engines are employed by these ships. The majority of these engines will be diesel ones.


Motor tankers are referred to using this prefix. These ships, which go by the name of oil tankers, are propelled by a self-propelled tanker. Products are often transported using oil tankers. Their namesake, oil, may be present in these goods.


Because it can be used to denote two distinct ship types, the SY prefix is noteworthy. Sailboats or steamboats may be used for this. Given that these two ships are completely different from one another, the prefix can be a little confusing.

Steam yachts also have a form of steam propulsion, unlike sailing yachts, which only use the sail. In steam yachts, this is used in conjunction with the sails to enhance propulsion.


Standing for “Royal Mail Ship”, this prefix is reserved for ships that transport post or mail for The main postal service in the United Kingdom is called Royal Mail. The prefix first appeared in use in 1840.

An intriguing technicality is that ships can only be designated as RMS vessels if they are still pledged to transport mail. If they do not satisfy this condition, these ships will go back to being called “SS” ships.

The Titanic, Queen Mary, and Carpathia are just a few of the famous vessels with the RMS prefix. In actuality, not many people are aware that the Titanic was an RMS vessel.


Although you might have thought LB stood for lifeboats, it actually stands for lifeboats. Ships with lifts are known as lifeboats. They are employed for construction and exploration tasks.


Ammunition ships are indicated by this prefix. These support ships are used to move ammunition and other essential military supplies. Ammunition ships are designed to hold this equipment securely.

Contrary to their name, ammunition ships do not only carry missiles and other weapons. Both food and fuel can be made from these supplies.

Ammunition ships frequently used asbestos in their construction before the 1980s. This was back when it wasn’t widely known that breathing asbestos posed a risk to human health.

The Pyro is one of the earliest and most well-known ships. This ship, designated AE-1, was constructed in August 1918, during the First World War. Pyro received a battle star for its involvement in World War Two.


The AHT, or anchor-handling tug, is the next ship on our list. To control anchors, these ships are employed. On oil rigs, AHTs are mainly employed. Designed to withstand choppy seas, these sturdy ships are strong and reliable.


The vessels starting with the letter DB are derrick barges. You might be wondering what a derrick barge is. These vessels are used to maintain oil derricks. They are frequently very expensive and large.


Although it can also be used to denote container ships, this prefix is primarily used to refer to cable ships. The function of cable ships is quite specialized. They are employed to transport cables, as their name would imply. The installation of these cables underwater will also be done with them.

Additionally, a type of cargo ship is a container ship. These container ships perform a crucial function by transporting intermodal containers around the globe.


There are two different ship variations that can be used with this prefix. DSV can stand for either deep-submergence vehicles or diving support vessels. The 1960s saw the emergence of diving support vessels.

They serve the purpose of supporting commercial diving operations. Deep-submergence vehicles, however, are submarines that can propel themselves.

These ships can be utilized for either research or rescue operations. Finding and saving the crew of a sunken ship frequently requires the assistance of rescue ships. Many navies, primarily the United States Navy, use both types of deep-submergence vehicles.


Floating production storage and offloading is the meaning of the following abbreviation. Oil and gas companies employ these floating ships. They perform crucial tasks, like maintaining oil. Additionally, they are responsible for processing hydrocarbons.


NB is the prefix given to narrowboats, which are a little unique from the other boats on this list. Narrowboats, a category of canal boat, are primarily used in the United Kingdom.

These narrowboats are made to be long and thin so they can fit through small gaps in the water. People in the general public like these boats. People now live in them on a daily basis, despite the fact that the Industrial Revolution saw a significant increase in their use.

In Britain, it’s common to see narrowboats with elaborate decorations.


what does ss means on a boat

In order to conduct scientific research, NRVS, or NATO Research Vessels, were created. NATO—the acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—conducts this research. It was founded in 1949 and is a significant organization.


Paddle streamers are abbreviated as PS. The screw-propelled ships took the place of these paddle steamers toward the end of the 19th century. Their use is not very common in modern society. They can, however, be utilized for tourist activities.


The yard tug ships are indicated by this prefix. The valiant-class harbor tug is one of the various yard tug variations.


Identifying this prefix might be challenging. Water barges, specifically the self-propelled variety, are what YW actually stands for. Most of the time, these ships are used for cargo transportation.


Next, TEV refers to a turbo-electric ship. The US Navy constructed them in the decade of the 1910s, but they were expensive to produce and operate. However, they were also utilized in the Second World War.


Ships with these prefixes are used to install wind turbines in offshore locations, with turbine installation vessels or wind turbine installation vessels being the more precise definitions.


Last on this list, USS stands for “United States Ship.” There are some ships in the United States that do not use this prefix. It is used instead for vessels that are a part of the American Navy.

Similar And Potentially Confused Prefixes

While most of these prefixes are fairly straightforward, SS is a little more challenging. It’s crucial to understand how SS differs from other prefixes that could be confused with it.

There are letters in SS that look identical but mean something different. One prefix that frequently gets mixed up with SS is sailing ship.

The term “Sailing Ship” is used to refer to a vessel that is propelled by the wind. These ships have sails, which draw in the wind and help the vessel move forward. In order to avoid confusion, it is important to always pay attention to the context in which the term “SS” is used.

Why Would You Give Your Boat A Name?

People choose names for their boats for a variety of reasons. While some do it for purely personal reasons, others do it for pragmatic ones.

Choosing a unique name for your boat can be a wonderful way to express your personality and set it apart from the competition. Additionally, giving your boat a name can aid in locating it in case it is ever lost or stolen.

Whatever the reason, always use originality in boat naming to make it stand out.


In the end, learning the different ship prefixes can be very challenging. Thankfully, this guide should enable you to develop a more thorough understanding of them.

Steamship is a prefix that begins sentences. A different type of ship, such as a sailing ship or a ship with only one propeller, may be mentioned in the context. To prevent misunderstandings, be constantly aware of the context in which the term is used. Giving your boat a name is a great way to give it character and make it stand out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

wakesurf for beginners Previous post How To Wakesurf For Beginners? A Complete Guide
how to measure a steering cable for boat Next post How To Measure A Steering Cable For A Boat? Full Guide