Why did the Imperial German navy not name all their ships?

In th wiki article on the scuttling of the German navy at Scapa Flow, there’s a list of the ships. Some of them have names, but others just have letter-number idents.

How come? Why did the Germans name some ships but not others?

The Imperial German Navy didn’t name their torpedo boats. That wasn’t an uncommon cutoff point for naming. JFK’s PT boat during WWII became pretty famous by the only official name it had, PT-109. Some of the German WWI torpedo boats were pushing into destroyer tonnages which obscures things to an extent.

I suspect with enough digging official rationals probably run into the notion that they just didn’t name things that small, numerous, and generally fragile.

Neither the Germans nor the British bothered giving names (i.e. of people, places or things) to their submarines in WWI.

The British used a letter to denote class of sub and a number (i.e. B-11, C-21), while nearly all the German subs were U-(number) (I think U-cruisers were at least a partial exception). This probably reflected the view that these vessels weren’t big/important and didn’t merit formal names.

Yeah. Checking Wikipedia shows that 531 PT boats were deployed (of which 99 were lost). That’s a lot of names.

Sorry, I forgot to include the Scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow - Wikipedia

I get it for torpedo boats, but it’s the destroyers that only have an ID code without a name. Aren’t destroyers considered significant?

Kriegsmarine Destroyers during WW2 also were unnamed, so you had Z1 - Z59 all unnamed despite being full size destroyers.

Destroyers were originally “torpedo boat destroyers”, that is, fast ships designed to destroy torpedo boats. Since the boats they were meant to destroy didn’t have have names, maybe the Germans didn’t see fit to give their destroyers names either.

Z-1 Leberecht Maass, through Z-22 Anton Schmitt, were named.

Simple, if you name them it makes it nearly impossible to eat them. :grin:

According to this, the Imperial German Navy didn’t really distinguish between torpedo boats and destroyers, and as a result, they were numbered, with a prefix letter.

Interesting (to me, anyway) note: just because military vessels were cheap and (relatively) disposable didn’t necessarily make them semi-anonymous.

The British named all of their many corvettes (Winston Churchill’s “cheap and nasties”, used mostly for convoy/antisubmarine work) after flowers. So you wound up with fighting ships with names like Azalea, Dahlia and (so help me) Pennywort.

Missed opportunity to let members of the public and corporations sponsor a torpedo boat and name her. Governments were desperately raising funds for the war through various drives and subscriptions.

I always assumed it was because the Germany Navy didn’t really love them.

While the weren’t war ships by any means, the U. S. Government did name all of the Liberty Ships, and there were over 2,700 of those bad boys. And yet the barely named the submarines.

Wonder if it was more that when the submarines and torpedo boats were first produced, they were very fragile as others have pointed out. And when the became more substantial (I’m thinking submarines) the convention had already been established.

Sweden puts QR codes and barcode SKUs on their ships instead of names. That way, when the ships come in to the dock, they can simply Scandinavian.

The U.S. didn’t name submarines back in the First World War, but the U.S. Navy started giving names to submarines in 1931, a good decade before the first Liberty ships were launched.

Keelhaul him, or make him walk the plank? Or both?

Yeah, I wasn’t clear. When I wrote “barely” I meant that they named them after fish as opposed to people.

(No way from you or anyone else to know what I meant in retrospect.)

Or perhaps the fact that submarines are silent assassins doesn’t lend itself to navy glorification.

That wasn’t the original intent of how subs would operate. They were supposed to surface and search merchant vessels, let the crew off, and then sink them or whatever. They only went to unrestricted warfare after the war was well along.