ABBREVIATIONS



Here is a list of abbreviations that are frequently used in the Royal Navy. The NATO standard phonetic alphabet is not included, but can be found by clicking here.

To see the list of abbreviations either scroll down the list now, or click on one of the letters below.

If you come across a naval abbreviation which is not listed here (either with or without its definition) then please Email me and I will add it as soon as I have solved it.



0-9  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M

N  P  R  S  T  U  V  W  X 






0-9



1SL First Sea Lord. Always a full Admiral. He is the professional head of the navy.
2SL Second Sea Lord. Also has the parallel appointment of C-in-C, Home Command. 2SL used to be a four-star appointment but has recently been filled by a Vice-Admiral. The 2SL is responsible for the manning and training of RN personnel.
3SL Third Sea Lord. Now a three-star appointment. Responsible for the design of all aircraft and airships.
4SL Fourth Sea Lord. A three-star appointment. Responsible for naval transport and stores.

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A



A Pennant recognition letter for an Auxiliary vessel. (e.g. A103) Normally Auxiliary vessels are members of the RFA but some are RN.
AAM Air to Air Missile
ACDS Assistant Chief of Defence Staff. Usually a Rear-Admiral who is the deputy of VCDS.
ACNS Assistant Chief of Naval Staff. Usually a Rear-Admiral who would work closely with C-in-C Fleet and 1SL.
Adm Admiral
ADS Active Dipping Sonar. This is the "wand" that is lowered by a Royal Navy helicopter and used to "ping" hostile submarines.
AEW Airborne Early Warning. This is an aircraft that patrols above the taskgroup or ship and provides warning of any hostile aircraft approaching.
AoF Admiral-of-the-Fleet. The highest rank in the Royal Navy. Usually only created in times of conflict although a person promoted to that rank holds it for life (albeit possibly on the retired list)
ASM Air-to-Sea Missile
ASV Anti-Surface Vessel. One of the operational capabilities of an aircraft, most notably the Lynx and Merlin helicopters.
ASW Anti-Submarine Warfare

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B



BB Battleship

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C



CA Heavy Cruiser
CAP Combat Air Patrol. This is the term given to the aircraft that fly above the battle-group protecting them from hostile aircraft.
Capt. Captain
Capt.(D) Captain (Destroyers). A post-captain who is in command of a flotilla of destroyers.
Capt.(F) Captain (Frigates). A post-captain who is in command of a flotilla of frigates.
Capt.(SM) Captain (Submarines). A post-captain who is in command of a flotilla of submarines.
Cdo Commando. Usually used to refer to one of the Commando brigades of the Royal Marines.
Cdr Commander
Cdre Commodore.
CEO Chief Engineering Officer.
CGRM Commandant General of the Royal Marines. The senior officer of the Royal Marines. Currently a Major General. (Equivalent to a Rear-Admiral)
C-in-C Fleet Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet. An admiral (usually a full-admiral) who has overall command of all the vessels in the Royal Navy.
C-in-C Commander-in-Chief. This is a flag officer who is in command of an area.
CIWS Close In Weapons System
CL Light Cruiser
CO Commanding Officer. When an officer is in command of a ship he or she is always addressed as "Captain" regardless of what substantive rank he or she is.
CODLAG Combined diesel, electric and gas. The propulsion used by the Type 23 frigates. This propulsion permits high speed and yet near-silent running when required.
COGOG Combined Gas or Gas. This is the standard power-plant used for destroyers and type 22 frigates. It allows greater speed and efficiency, whilst remaining quiet.
Com.(MCM) Commander, Mines-counter measures. Usually an officer of the rank of Commander who is in command of a flotilla of MCMVs.
COMATG Commodore, Amphibious Task Group. A one-star appointment who is in charge of the amphibious landing. Once the troops have been landed, command on land is normally exercised by an Army or RM General. The Task Group (i.e. the ships) remain in the command of the Commodore.
COMAW Commodore, Amphibious Warfare. Where the Amphibious ships form part of a larger Task-Force or Battle-Group, then the Commodore in charge of the Amphibious landings is known as COMAW rather than COMATG (since the Task Group is the larger fleet). Although in charge of the Amphibious ships and their escorts, and the actual landing, he will normally be acting under the orders of the principal Task-Force or Battle-Group commander who would usually be a Rear-Admiral, but possibly a Vice-Admiral.
COMUKTG Commander, United Kingdom Task Group. Currently a Rear-Admiral.
CPO Chief Petty Officer
CSST Captain, Sea and Shore Training. A captain who is responsible for the training of submarines. Directly responsible to FOSM.
CVA Conventional Aircraft carrier
CVBG Carrier Battle Group. A battle-group centred around an aircraft carrier.
CVF Future Aircraft carrier
CVN Nuclear Aircraft Carrier
CVS Aircraft Carrier (ASW). An aircraft carrier designated for anti-submarine warfare. The Invincible class aircraft carriers were originally designated for this purpose, although they have now undertaken a wider role.

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D



D Pennant recognition letter for Destroyers. (e.g. D23)
DD Destroyer
DDG Guided Missile Destroyer
DEPCOMF Deputy Commander Fleet. This is normally the only sea-going Vice-Admiral. He is the deputy of C-in-C Fleet and would assume command of a Battle-Group when it is decided that a Rear-Admiral would be too junior for the operation.
DERA Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. An agency of the MOD which is concerned with developing the technology of the future.
DEPSACLANT Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic. A Royal Navy Vice-Admiral.

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E



(E) Usually follows a rank to denote the Engineering branch. (e.g. Commander (E) is a Commander (Engineering). Captain (E) would be a post-captain (Engineering) and is one of the few occasions when two post-captains can serve on the same ship under the title captain)
EDF European Defence Force
EMF Embarked Military Force. The troops embarked in an Amphibious Task Group.
EWS Electronic Warfare System

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F



F Pennant recognition letter for Frigates. (e.g. F123)
FAA Fleet Air Arm
FF Frigate
FFG Guided Missile Frigate
Flag officer A flag officer is an Admiral (of any rank) or a Commodore. Its name comes from the fact that an Admiral is given a flag to symbolise his rank. At sea the flagship will normally fly the flag but whenever an Admiral transfers to another ship, his flag should also be shifted. A Commodore has a broad pennant rather than a flag. (To see Flags click here)
FONA Flag-Officer, Naval Aviation. Usually a Rear-Admiral
FOSF Flag-Officer, Surface Flotillas. Currently a Rear-Admiral
FOSM Flag-Officer, Submarine. Can be either a Rear-Admiral or a Vice-Admiral although it is usually filled at 2-star level.
FOST Flag-Officer, Sea-Training. Usually a Rear-Admiral.
FOTR Flag Officer, Training and Recruitment. Always a Rear-Admiral.
FSC Future Surface Combatant. The project designation for the replacement of the Type 22 and Type 23 frigates.

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G



GR7 The RAF version of the Harrier. GR7s first embarked on Royal Navy aircraft carriers during the Falklands war, and have regularly complemented Sea Harriers since. Under the new Joint Force 2000 initative, this "pooling" of Harriers will continue.
GRP Glass Reinforced Plastic. This is used to build MCMVs which cannot be made out of metal because of their role in anti-mine warfare.

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H



HM/S Her Majesty's Submarine
HMS Her Majesty's Ship (His Majesty when the Sovereign is a King)

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I



ICBM Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

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J



JF2000 Joint Force 2000. Although this is a new formalised initative, it has replaced previous ad hoc arrangements. JF 2000 sets up a new joint command with RAF and RN Harriers. Both types of aircraft will be carried by aircraft carriers when required, and JF 2000 will ensure that the correct amount of training is given. The head of JF 2000 is a Rear-Admiral, and his deputy is an Air-Commodore. (A one-star post)

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K



Km Kilometres
Kts Knots. This is used to refer to the speed of a ship. It is the number of nautical miles (nm) a vessel can travel in one hour.

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L



L Pennant recognition letter for an amphibious warfare vessel. (e.g. L03). Also used to denote the rank of a Leading rate.
LCU Landing Craft - Utility. Used for taking a variety of vehicles, weapons, armour and stores to the shore from an LPD or LPH.
LCVP Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel. Used to take land vehicles and personnel from an LPD or LPH.
LPD Logistic (or Landing) Platform - Dock. A ship used to off-load an amphibious task group. It normally comprises a reasonably large flight-deck for helicopters, and contains numerous assault vessels.
LPD(R) Logistic (or Landing) Platform - Dock (Replacement). The designation for the Albion class whilst under construction.
LPH Logistic (or Landing) Platform - Helicopter. A ship designed to transport and operate, helicopters in support of an amphibious operation.
LSL Landing Ship - Logistic. These ships are operated by the RFA. They currently bear the names of the Knights of the Round Table (Sir Tristam, Sir Lancelot etc.) and form part of an amphibious taskgroup. They have the ability to beach themselves if required, although it is more usual for the troops to disembark on landing vessels or via a dock.
LST Landing Ship Tank. A vessel that lands tanks onto land.
Lt Lieutenant
Lt-Cdr Lieutenant Commander

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M



M Pennant recognition letter for a mines-counter measures vessel. (e.g. M32)
MCM Mine Countermeasures. This can be through dedicated vessels (MCMVs) or through ad hoc arrangements which could realistically be any vessel equipped with a specialist diver.
MCMV Mine Countermeasures Vessel. A "minesweeper" or "minehunter." These vessels still remain an essential part of the fleet as the use of mines remains an important part of naval warfare.
MEDEVAC Medical Evacuation. The process of evacuating a casualty to a medical receiving ship. Most ships of the Royal Navy are capable of receiving casualties. RFA ARGUS has a secondary-warfare role a casualty-receiving ship although since it is a military vessel it is not protected by the Geneva Convention. The SDR highlighted the need to build and operate two dedicated hospital ships, which, in accordance with the Geneva Convention, will be painted white with large, red crosses painted on the side.
MIRV Multiple Independently-targetable Re-entry Vehicle. This term is used in conjunction with ICBM and SLBM missiles. A MIRV missile can hit numerous targets from one missile. The trident D5 missile has 12 warheads and so each missile can attack 12 targets.
MOD Ministry of Defence

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N



NAAFI Navy, Army and Air Force Institute. The NAAFI is a civilian stores company that sells a considerable amount of stores to service personnel, usually for a substantial discount.
NAS Naval Air Station. Where the FAA aircraft and crew are based. The equivalent of a shore establishment for the Fleet Air Arm.
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
NM Nautical Miles. A nautical mile is slightly longer than a land-mile, in that it comprises 1,852m instead of 1,609m.

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P



P Pennant recognition letter for Patrol Vessels. (e.g. P102)
PAAMS Principal Anti-Air Missile System.
PO Petty Officer
PWO Principal Warfare Officer. The officer that is charged with the defence of the ship. The PWO is the only other officer other than the officer commanding (usually the Captain but if he or she falls, the XO) who can authorise the firing of the ships defensive armament. Quite often the PWO will be the third-in-command.
PWR Pressurised Water Reactor. This is the nuclear power plan fitted to Vanguard, Swiftsure and Trafalgar class submarines.

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R



R Pennant recognition letter for an aircraft carrier. (e.g. R07)
R/Adm Rear Admiral
RAF Royal Air Force
RAN Royal Australian Navy. Ships are prefixed HMAS.
RCMDS Remote Control Mine Disposal System
RCN Royal Canadian Navy. Ships are prefixed HMCS.
RFA Royal Fleet Auxiliary. A ship owned by the MOD not the Royal Navy. They are crewed by members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service. RFA ships accompany RN ships (and other allies on occasion) and perform many tasks including replenishments and servicing. The ships are prefixed RFA not HMS since they are not commissioned into the Royal Navy. They fly the Blue Ensign rather than the White of the Royal Navy.
RIB Rigid Inflatable Boats. Very high speed boats. The sub-surface parts of the boats are rigid and usually made from fibreglass. The "hull" of the boat is inflated. They are powered by at least two engines and can reach 40 knots. They are normally steered by a senior rate or Royal Marine who sits near the bow of the boat and steers via a wheel. They are carried by most ships to perform boarding operations either by members of the ships' company or members of the Royal Marines.
RM Royal Marines
RMR Royal Marines Reserve
RN Royal Navy
RNR Royal Naval Reserve
RNZN Royal New Zealand Navy. Ships are prefixed HMNZS.
RPM Rounds per Minute. The firing rate of a gun. Also Revolutions per Minute which is the speed of a propeller.

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S



S Pennant recognition letter for a submarine. (e.g. S103)
S/Lt Sub-Lieutenant
SACLANT Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic. Usually an American admiral.
SACEUR Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. A 4-star American officer.
SAM Sea (or Surface) to Air Missile
SAS Special Air Service. The most famous special forces of the United Kingdom.
SBA Sick Birth Attendant. A rating who help out the ship's surgeon.
SBS Special Boat Squadron. The special forces of the Royal Marines. They are the aquatic cousins of the SAS and are as well-trained, if nor more so than the SAS. The SBS perform many roles although primarily anti-terrorism. One of their prime roles is to protect the North Sea Oil Platforms.
SDR Strategic Defence Review. This was a review set up by the new Labour government in 1997. It reported in 1999 and is a blue-print for the armed services of the United Kingdom for the future. A large proportion of it deals with the Royal Navy and includes substantial new ships, although, regrettably, an overall reduction in strength.
SGM Self-Guiding Missiles. In effect a fire-and-forget missile. The vessel firing the missile locks it onto the target, and then on-board instruments within the missile keep tracking the target until it hits.
SLBM Sub-Launched Ballistic Missile. This is the "proper" name for the nuclear ICBM used by the U.K. This is the Trident-II missile.
SSBN Nuclear Ballistic Submarines. These are the submarines which are capable of launching inter-continental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons. The Royal Navy is now solely responsible for the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent through its Trident submarines.
SSK Conventional Submarine. These are hunter-killer submarines.
SSM Sea-to-Sea Missile
SSN Nuclear Submarine. This is a hunter-killer submarine, not a submarine capable of launching strategic nuclear missiles which is an SSBN.
STANAVFORCHAN Standing Naval Force, Channel. A NATO mine-countermeasures force. Commanded by an officer of the rank of Commander
STOVL Short Take Off and Vertical Landing: the Sea Harrier is an example of this.
STRKFORSOUTH Naval striking and support forces of Southern Europe.
STUFT Ships Taken Up From Trade. These are ships, usually of the Merchant Navy, which the UK Government assume control of in the event of the outbreak of hostilities. Prime Examples of this would be the QE2 which was taken up from Cunard at the outbreak of the Falkland's war.
STAR A method of referring to the rank of flag-officers. The lowest is a one-star officer (a Commodore) and the highest - in times of peace - is a four star officer (a full Admiral). In times of conflict an Admiral of the Fleet may be created who is a five-star officer.

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T



TEZ Total Exclusion Zone. This is an area where ships within that zone are considered to be hostile and liable to be sunk without prior warning. One was used in the Falkland's War. To some degree they are slightly misleading and superfluous since when two countries are in conflict, any vessel of the other's would undoubtedly be the subject of action.
TLAM Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. The Royal Navy is the first foreign Navy to be given access to this American missile. The devastating power and accuracy of the Tomahawk missile was shown in the Gulf war and also in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. HM/S SPLENDID was the first vessel to fire a TLAM, and in 1999 it was the first Royal Naval vessel to fire a TLAM in anger.

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U



URNU University Royal Navy Units. These are units that are set up around certain University's. The units recruit undergraduate students to the rank of Officer Cadet and Midshipman. They train with Archer class patrol vessels under the command of a Royal Naval Lieutenant.
USN United States Navy. Ships are prefixed USS

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V



V/Adm Vice Admiral
VCDS Vice Chief of Defence Staff. Usually a full Admiral but may also be a Vice-Admiral. Works closely with 1SL and liases with the staff of the other services.
VLS Vertical Launch System. Used to describe the method of launching a missile, for example the Sea Wolf on a Type 23 frigate.

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W



WEO Weapons Engineer Officer. The officer whose responsibility it is to actually fire the ship's offensive weapons when commanded to do so by the officer commanding.
WEU Western European Union.
WREN See WRNS. Now used solely as a way of identifying female members of the Royal Navy.
WRNS Women's Royal Naval Service. This was abolished on 1st November 1993 when females were permitted to become full members of the Royal Navy. (Although not of the Royal Marines) However, the title Wren is still used as a suffix for female ratings.

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X



XO Executive Officer. This is the second-in-command of a ship and is also sometimes referred to as the First Lieutenant or First Officer. Colloquially the XO is often referred to as the "jimmy."

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