naming a boat SS/HMS ....

are you allowed to name a boat SS or HMS something or other? i was watching an episode of family guy where peter named his boat the “SS more powerful than superman, batman, spiderman and the incredible hulk put together”. im homage to this i was thinking of doing the HMS equivelent.
is this legal? if not, will it be likely enforced if anyone (coast guard etc) notices?
one last question. what does ss stand for (i know hms stands for his/her majestys service)

Don’t know about the legalities of the name, but SS stands for “Sailing Ship.” USS stands for “United States Ship.”

Actually, SS stands for Steam Ship. (Prior to steam the vessels were generally identified by their rig, thus the Schooner Bluenose, the Brig John Johnson, etc. A description of Ship indicated a full-rigged ship of three square-rigged masts.
More recently, as steam has been replaced by diesel-electric, the abbreviation used has been m.v. (motor vessel).)

While you can probably get away with naming your dingy or punt HMS Rowboat, I suspect that anything large enough to license by name will cause you some trouble if you attempt to put an “HMS” on it. I do not know of any specific laws to prohibit it, but I suspect that there are some regulations regarding not choosing names that would cause confusion in radio traffic and similar situations.

As a matter of comity, I think the Coast Guard would reject a name prefixed by “H.M.S.” because that designates a vessel that is one of Her [Britannic] Majesty’s Ships, i.e., a vessel in the Royal Navy. The S.S. Queen Elizabeth II, a cruise liner, you will note, is not H.M.S., but the British equivalent of a PT-boat would be, presuming it were named.

While British designations have no legal force in the U.S., the Coast Guard does have some rights over what designations will be used, for fairly obvious reasons (e.g., if they’re required to rescue it, they need to know what it is they’re rescuing). And “comity” is the term for the courtesy extended between nations that “I won’t use my sovereign powers to do something offensive to you, if you return the favor.”

U.S.S., on the other hand, means “United States Ship” and refers only to any vessel with American registry, so “U.S.S. Stronger-Than-Superman-Etc.” would be an acceptable moniker, presuming the string of stuff behind it is OK to the U.S.C.G.


Local Star Trek fan clubs are (or at least used to be) named U.S.S. Whatever, following the conventions established in the show on naming starships. The Ithaca, New York Trek club is named U.S.S. Accord, in honor (or so I’ve been told) of one of the members’ cars.



The following comes from the FAQ at the Coast Guard’s National Vessel Documentation Center

In short, this applies to “documented” vessels. Small pleasure craft (say, less that 25-30’) are usually registered with the state. I’m sure that each state sets up their own rules on naming.

The info from the FAQ will stem from law, which I will try to dig up, to see if it addresses the HMS or USS issues.

The Code of Federal Regulations says pretty much exactly what the FAQ said. 46CFR67.117:

This is not to say that those designations are legit; there may be elsewhere in the code something that prohibits it. Code is written funny like that sometimes. Either way, your name on the Doc application will either be accepted or rejected, hopefully with a reason given if the latter.