Hull Classification Symbol

Every vessel on the US Navy list is given a distinctive serial number, prefaced by initials, a hull classification symbol (sometimes called hull codes), denoting the category to which it belongs. The Royal Navy and some European and Commonwealth navies (19 in total) use a somewhat analogous system of Pennant numbers. All hull classification symbols are at least two letters; for basic types the symbol is the first letter of the type name, doubled, except for aircraft carriers.

The combination of symbol and hull number identify a modern Navy ship uniquely. A heavily modified or repurposed ship may receive a new symbol, and either retain the hull number or receive a new one. Also, the system of symbols has changed a number of times since it was introduced in 1907, so ships' symbols sometimes change without anything being done to the physical ship.

Many of the symbols listed here are not presently in use. The Naval Vessel Register maintains an online database of US Navy ships.

The 1975 ship reclassification of cruisers, frigates, and ocean escorts brought US Navy classifications into line with other nations' classifications, and eliminated the perceived "cruiser gap" with the Soviet Navy.

If a ship's hull classification symbol begins with "W", it is a ship of the United States Coast Guard. If it begins with "T-", it is part of the Military Sealift Command and has a primarily civilian crew.

Hull numbers are assigned classification by classification. Duplication between, but not within, classifications is permitted. Hence, CV-1 was the USS Langley and BB-1 was the USS Indiana.

Nato Stanag (1)

AA Auxiliary-General AH Hospital ship AP Personnel Transport
CA Cruiser, Gun CC Cruiser-General CG Cruiser, Guided Missile
CGH Cruiser, Guided Missile, Helicopter CGN Cruiser, Guided Missile, Nuclear CV Aircraft Carrier
CVG Aircraft Carrier, Guided Missile CVH Aircraft Carrier, V/STOL/ Helicopter CVN Aircraft Carrier, Nuclear
CVS Aircraft carrier, ASW DD Destroyer- General DDE Destroyer, Escort
DDG Destroyer, Guided Missile DDH Destroyer, Helicopter FF Frigate/Corvette- General
FFG Frigate, Guided Missile FFH Frigate, helicopter FS Corvette
FSG Corvette, Guided Missile LCC Amphibious Command ship LCM Landing Craft, Mechanised
LCP Landing Craft, Personnel LCU Landing Craft, Utility LCVP Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel
LHA Amphibious General Assault Ship LHD Amphibious Assault Ship LL Amphibious Vessel, General
LPA Amphibious Transport, Personnel LPD Amphibious Transport, Dock LPH Amphibious Assault Ship
LSD Landing Ship, Dock LSM Landing Ship, Medium LST Landing Ship, Tank
MM Mine Warfare Vessels, General MCM Mine Countermeasures Vessel MH (i) Minehunter, General (Inshore)
MH(c) Minehunter, General (Coastal) MH(o) Minehunter, General (Ocean) MHS Minehunter and Sweeper, General
MLC Minelayer, Coastal MSC Minesweeper, Coastal MSO Minesweeper, Ocean
OPV Offshore Patrol Craft PC(f) Patrol Craft, General (fast) PG Patrol Ship, General
PG(F) Patrol or Gunship (Fast) PG(G) Patrol or Gunship (Guided Missile) PHM Patrol Combatant, Guided Missile
PT(H) Patrol/ Torpedo Boat (Hydrofoil) SS Submarine, General SSA Submarine, Missile
SSBN Submarine, Ballistic Missile, Nuclear SSGN Submarine, Attack, Surface Missile, Nuclear SSK Submarine, Patrol
SSN Submarine, Attack, Nuclear. AVG Auxiliary Aircraft Ferry CVE Escort aircraft carrier

Earlier US Navy (2)

Sea Going Fighting Ships

BB Battleships CB Large Cruisers/ Battlecruisers CV Fleet Aircraft Carriers
CVB Large Fleet Aircraft Carriers CVE Escort Aircraft Carriers CVL Light Fleet Aircraft Carriers
CA Heavy Cruisers CL Light Cruisers DD Destroyers
DE Escort Vessels SS Submarines SM Submarines (Minelaying)
CM Minelayers CMc Minelayers (Coastal) DM Light Minelayers (ex-Destroyers)
DMS Fast Minesweepers (ex-Destroyers) AM Fleet Minesweepers AMc Minesweepers (Coastal)
AMc (U) Minesweepers (Coastal) Underwater Locator AMb Minesweepers, Harbour (Base) type PG Gunboats, Sloops and Corvettes
PGM Gunboats (Motor) PF Escort Vessels ( Frigates) PY Escort Vessels (Converted Yachts)
PYe Escort Vessels, Coastal type (Converted Yachts) PT Motor Torpedo Boats PC Submarine Chasers (Steel)
PCE Submarine Chasers (Steel), Escort type PCE(R) Submarine Chasers (Steel), fitted for rescue work PCS Submarine Chasers (wooden) fitted for minesweeping
SC Submarine Chasers (wooden)

Auxilliaries

AB Crane ship AC Collier AD Destroyer tender
AE Ammunition ship AF Provision Stores ship AG Miscellaneous auxiliary
AGC Amphibious Force flagship AGL Lighthouse tender (Coast Guard) AGP Motor torpedo boat tender
AGS Surveying ship AH Hospital ship AK Cargo Cargo ship
AKA Cargo ship-Attack AKD Deep hold cargo ship AKN Net cargo ship
AKS General stores issue ship AKV Cargo ship/ aircraft ferry AL Lightship (Coast Guard)
AN Net laying ship AO Oil tanker AOG Gasoline tanker
AP Transport APA Transport-Attack APB Barrack ship-Self Propelled
APc Coastal transport (small) APD High speed transport APF Administration flagship
APG Supporting gunnery ship APH Transport fitted for evacuation of wounded APL Labour transport or barrack ship
APM Mechanized artillery-transport APN Non Mechanized artillery-transport APR Rescue transport
APV Transport and aircraft ferry AR Repair ship ARB Repair ship-battle damage
ARC Cable repairing or laying ship ARD Floating dry dock ARDC Repair dock-concrete
ABD Advance base dock ABSD Advance base sectional dock AFD Mobile floating dry dock
ARG Repair ship-internal combustion engine ARH Heavy hull repair ship ARL Repair ship-landing craft
ARM Heavy machinery repair ship ARS Salvage vessel ARS(D) Salvage lifting vessel
ARS(T) Salvage Craft Tender ARV(A) Aircraft Repair Ship (Airframe) ARV(E) Aircraft Repair Ship (Engine)
AS Submarine Tender ASR Submarine Rescue Vessel ATA Ocean Tug -Auxiliary
ATF Ocean Tug -Fleet ATO Ocean Tug -Old ATR Ocean Tug -Rescue
AV Seaplane Tender AVC Catapult Lighter AVD Seaplane Tender (Destroyer)
AVP Seaplane Tender (Small) AVR Aircraft Rescue Vessel AVS Aviation Supply Ship
AW Distilling Ship AWK Water Tanker AZ Airship Tender (Lighter-than-air)
IX Unclassified Vessel

Yard and District Craft

YA Ash Lighter YAG District Auxiliary, Miscellaneous YC Open Lighter
YCF Car Float (Railroad) YCK Open Cargo Lighter YCV Aircraft Transportation Lighter
YD Floating Derrick YDG Degaussing Vessel YDT Diving Tender
YE Ammunition Lighter YF Covered Lighter YFB Ferry Boat or Launch
YFD Floating Dry Dock YFT Torpedo Transportation Lighter YG Garbage Lighter
YH Ambulance Boat YHB House Boat YHT Heating Scow
YLA Open Landing Lighter YM Dredge YMS Motor Mine Sweeper
YN Net Tender YNg Gate Vessel YNT Net Tender (tug class)
YO Fuel Oil Barge YOG Gasoline Barge YOS Oil storage Barge
YP District Patrol Vessel YPD Pile Driver (floating) YPK Pontoon Stowage Barge
YR Floating Workshop YRD(H) Floating Workshop-Drydock, Hull YRD(M) Floating Workshop- Drydock, Machinery
YS Stevedoring Barge YSD Seaplane Wrecking Derrick YSP Salvage Pontoon
YSR Sludge Removal Barge YTB Harbour Tug-Big YTL Harbour Tug-Little
YTM Harbour Tug-Medium YTT Torpedo Testing Barge YW Water Barge
Bibliography
1: Jane’s Warship Recognition Guide. 2: Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War II

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