How Are Ships Named?


There are many artists and writers who have shared the beauty of nautical artwork through drawings, paintings, and books.

USS Enterprise, USS Nimitz, USS Utah – these are well-known names of famous US battleships that fought with honor and glory in the two world wars. But how exactly did they get their names? Who and how decides on the name of a new ship? 

A Clearly Regulated Process

The US Navy has strict procedures concerning the person in charge and the kind of name a ship can be given. Thus, the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) has the responsibility and honor of naming a ship. The SECNAV acts under the direction of the President of the United States and in observance of rules set by the Congress.  

The rules for naming ships are set according to the class of each vessel. Thus: 

1. Aircraft Carriers Are Named after Past Presidents

The 14 aircraft carriers in the US Navy fleet bead the names of deceased US Presidents and two Members of Congress. 

2. Destroyers Honor Members of the Navy

Names of destroyer ships include members of the Marine Corps, of the Coast Guard and Secretaries of the Navy. 

3. Littoral Combat Ships Bear the Names of US Cities

Some of the best known ships of this class are USS Coronado, USS Forth Worth, USS Omaha and USS Indianapolis. 

4. Amphibious Assault Ships Pay Homage to Epic Battles

The exception to this rule is USS America. But you certainly heard of USS Iwo Jima, USS Tripoli and USS Nassau. 

5. San Antonio Class Amphibious Ships Are Named after Major US Cities

Some of these cities are the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Other names include USS Portland, USS Anchorage and USS San Diego.