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Name of military vessel? Quotes or italics?

Crumbly Writer

How do you format the name of a military ship? Like a movie or film (in italics), or with a simple quote? Also, does that vary depending on nationality? The ship in my stories is an alien vessel, so I don't want it to sound overly "American".

sunkuwan

In one of my old stories, I used a variation of the X-Universe declaration of ships and capslock ship names. So my Battleship was displayed as an R1-"BISMARCK", "R1" is a Battleship, "R2" a Carrier, "R3" a Cruiser, and so on.
When the characters talked about a ship they would just say the "SHIPNAME" if it was a casual talk, Rx-"SHIPNAME" if it was official communication and Rx000-"SHIPNAME" when talking about production of ships or a general overview (the number being the continuous production number of the class)

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

How do you format the name of a military ship?


Why use either italics or quotes? I've never seen special formatting (in terms of font) for ship names in anything I've read.

A ship's name is not a title, it's more like a person's name or a place name treat it like you would any place name.

On a more general level, military ship names often come with a prefix, though not every country in the real world uses such prefixes internally, they are a handy way to make military vessels identifiable in fiction.

US: USS = United States Ship
UK: HMS = Her/His Majesty's Ship

What is the name of the alien civilization (what they call themselves, not what humans call them)?

How is their civilization governed/organized?
Is it a single race? If so, what is the evolutionary root of that race?

Are you mapping a language for this alien civilization?

What is their word for ship?

What is their word for their form of government and/or their sovereign?

Here is a list of the prefixes used by different countries, current and historical for inspiration.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_prefix

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Darian Wolfe

@Crumbly Writer

In his novel "Citizen of the Galaxy" Heinlein just wrote the name of the vessel.

The gate pass office could not be hurried, especially as Captain Krausa, although identifying himself and son by ship's papers, declined to state his business with the commander of Guard Cruiser Hydra other than to say that it was "urgent and official."

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

How do you format the name of a military ship?


Just capitalize it.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Why use either italics or quotes? I've never seen special formatting (in terms of font) for ship names in anything I've read.

A ship's name is not a title, it's more like a person's name or a place name treat it like you would any place name.

That's pretty convincing, but in my case, I want something to highlight the name, so it's somewhat obvious it's the name of the ship, as I doubt the readers will remember the name.

The name, Blissful Destruction, isn't likely to be mistaken for anything else, but it hasn't been repeated in the story often enough yet for it to be familiar with the readers.

As for the alien language, using alien technology, the language spoken by anyone is instantly translated, inside their brains, into the person's natural tongue. The 'hear' the spoken word, but their brain cells associated with the concept fires, invoking the term.

However, while that works with "Captain" or "General", it's not likely to translate as USS: R3-Blissful Destruction.

I guess I have my answer, and it doesn't pay to add yet another complicating detail like the alien raking of the ship and how it translates, so I guess I'll just say "the Blissful Destruction, our ship". :(

Guess I'm just tired. The ideas just aren't flowing anymore.

StarFleet Carl

@Crumbly Writer

I guess I'll just say "the Blissful Destruction


Actually, that was pretty much what I was going to recommend.

In conversations I've had with assorted squids, they'd say something like, "I was stationed on the Nimitz" or "I served on CV-59, the Forrestal." What David Weber did was put the name of the ship in italics, to separate it out, such as in this line: Might I say what an honor it is to have you with us on the Charles DeGlopper!

Not_a_ID
Updated:

Style guides should still specify that ship names are to be Italicized, always. Informal writing(such as email and internet forums) can differ on that however. There also is arguable difference between referencing the USS Enterprise and someone talking about serving on "The Big E" or "The Enterprise" where technically you're not using "the proper name" for the ship and thus italics are not warranted. Although I have seen just the ship name get italic treatment as well.

About the only "proper" time for a ship name to get quotation marks is probably when nicknames are being used. The quotes vs italics thing on the style side is more over Book/Movie citations vs articles, stories, or episodes. New York Times for example is the publication, while the news article "Trump's Face Demonstrates a New Shade of Orange" would get quotes.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

As for the alien language, using alien technology, the language spoken by anyone is instantly translated, inside their brains, into the person's natural tongue. The 'hear' the spoken word, but their brain cells associated with the concept fires, invoking the term.


Does that work for written language as well?

However, while that works with "Captain" or "General", it's not likely to translate as USS: R3-Blissful Destruction.


Why wouldn't that work? It's an initialism? Translate the actual words then form a "tranlated" initialism from the translated words. That's exactly how we get USSR as an English initialism for the Soviet Union. It gets done all the time in the international press, people are quite used to it.

Just be a little creative with it. IAS (Imperial Arkadian Starship).

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
StarFleet Carl

There also is arguable difference between referencing the USS Enterprise and someone talking about serving on "The Big E" or "The Enterprise" where technically you're not using "the proper name" for the ship and thus italics are not warranted.


Unless they were wearing a red shirt, in which case they never survived the landing party.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Not_a_ID
Dominions Son
Updated:

@StarFleet Carl


Unless they were wearing a red shirt, in which case they never survived the landing party.


I'm pretty sure that Not_a_ID was referring to the US Navy ships named Enterprise, not Star Trek.

ETA: There have been 8 ships in the US Navy to bear the name USS Enterprise going all the way back to the Continental Navy in 1775.

The longest The US has gone without an active ship named Enterprise was 22 years.

The next USS Enterprise (another aircraft carrier) is due to be commissioned in 2028.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ships_of_the_United_States_Navy_named_Enterprise

Not_a_ID

@StarFleet Carl

Unless they were wearing a red shirt, in which case they never survived the landing party.


I sometimes wonder what that crew's pejorative nickname for that starship was. Then again, I probably need only ask someone who served on her present day counterpart to find out what it might be. In the case of the ship I was on it was a word-play on one of Satan's other names/titles. 😈

Darian Wolfe

@Crumbly Writer

One question. Just how freaky deak are these aliens and their culture? Would they consider the ship a nest or a hive?Possibly a temple where they practice a death religion? Or is it just a mode of transportation so they can get from point A to point B to kick some ass? This would affect their naming conventions. This is a silly thought that doesn't fit your style, but what if space travel was considered singing as translated to humans and spacecraft were songs? It would then be our song the Blissful Destruction.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID

@Darian Wolfe

This is a silly thought that doesn't fit your style, but what if space travel was considered singing as translated to humans and spacecraft were songs? It would then be our song the Blissful Destruction.


Some of that would boil down to "lost in translation" (or not) as the case may be. As a skilled translator may interpret that for you, so while that may be what they said, that isn't what you get told(/hear) from the translator.

But some of that goes to literal vs figurative translation and/or interpretation. A good translator/interpreter may be just as inclined to give you a interpretation you can understand rather than a literal translation you can't (immediately) wrap your head around.

And/or the matter of it being "understood" that such interpretation is going on, or that such a "convention" has developed over time for translation going from X to Y.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Does that work for written language as well?

I wouldn't know. All their communications are telepathic (i.e. one brain to another via the relays inside their brains), so they have no need for a written language.

Technically, on their way to the alien homeworld (one word), the humans did study their 'data pads' (no details on what those involved) to learn as much about the culture as they could. But the written language was like the spoken language. You'd SEE the written word, while THINKING the English equivalent, thus you'd quickly learn to associate one with the other, and pretty soon, you're able to converse and read the language without really considering it. (Nice theory, but I'd hate to see it in practice.)

Just be a little creative with it. IAS (Imperial Arkadian Starship).

It's the Tandorian Empire, so I guess it'd be TES (Tandorian Empire Starship).

Crumbly Writer

@Darian Wolfe

One question. Just how freaky deak are these aliens and their culture? Would they consider the ship a nest or a hive?Possibly a temple where they practice a death religion? Or is it just a mode of transportation so they can get from point A to point B to kick some ass? This would affect their naming conventions. This is a silly thought that doesn't fit your style, but what if space travel was considered singing as translated to humans and spacecraft were songs? It would then be our song the Blissful Destruction.

I take it, that instead of blinding headaches, your Migraines result in puns?

The opposing alien race is a 'hive culture', but that's not directly applicable (though it reminds me, I also need to name a couple of their ships as well). ZCS?

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@Crumbly Writer

Actually, I'm driven to humor to distract from the secondary pain, The migraine itself rarely hurts much but the light sensitivity and sound sensitivity is the more painful part.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


It's the Tandorian Empire, so I guess it'd be TES (Tandorian Empire Starship).


Or TIS for Tandorian Imperial Starship.

Imperial Tandorian Starship (ITS) would have potential for confusion. :)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

If designators are required make sure you get them right as naval vessels and non-naval vessels have different designators, and the propulsion system sometimes alters them as well. However, the usual process is to treat the ship name the same as either a book title or a nickname. I tend to go with the full title as a book title style in italics with single apostrophes the first time it's mentioned then switch to normal text after that, the same way you do with a nickname.

edit to add; Thus Ensign Smith is assigned to the 'USS Enterprise' when it's first mentioned, but it becomes the USS Enterprise in later references.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Or TIS for Tandorian Imperial Starship.

Imperial Tandorian Starship (ITS) would have potential for confusion.

Or for the SOL release, "Tandorian Imperial Trans-Galactic Starship" or TITS. 'D

I'm not sure I'll include that when I publish, though.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@sunkuwan

I said I wouldn't italicize the ship name, but if you follow the CMOS:

per Chicago Manual of Style (section 8.115: Names of Ships and other Vessels):

Capitalize and italicize ship names. (The Enterprise)
Do not put ship names in all caps.
Do not use italics for names of makes/classes or routes of ships, trains, cars or other vehicles, or names of space programs. (Metroliner, Ford Mustang, Project Apollo)
Never italicize abbreviations such as USS or HMS when they precede a ship's name. (The HMS Pinafore)

per Chicago Manual of Style (section 7.28: Possessive with italicized or quoted terms):

When an italicized term appears in roman text, the possessive s should be set in roman. (Destiny's anchor)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
robberhands

I submit the following on behalf of Ross at Play . The usual disclaimer applies:

Ross at Play:

@Crumbly Writer

Convention suggests the name should be in title case and italics as well. Note any abbreviations before the name are just shown as uppercase acronyms in Roman font.

This is extracted from CMOS 7.115 – Please don't shoot me; I'm only the messenger!


Names of specific ships and other vessels are both capitalized and italicized.

Note that when such abbreviations, e.g. USS (United States ship) or HMS, precede a name, the word 'ship' or other vessel type should not be used. The abbreviations themselves are not italicized.

Examples:

Mars global surveyor; Mars polar lander; Phoenix Mars lander; Phoenix

the space shuttle Discovery

the Spirit of St. Louis

HMS Frolic; the British ship Frolic

SS United States; the United States

USS SC-530; the US ship SC-530


I would agree the logic of what DS suggested appears sound: they are just names, so treat them like any other proper noun. [To DS] While some may spit at Wiki, look how it formats name in the article you linked to on ships named Enterprise.

I presume CMOS suggests italics as well for ship names because such an odd collection of things are used to name vessels. That creates the potential for momentary ambiguity by readers – even if they are warned something is unusual about this word by the use of title case.

My recommendation to others is to go with CMOS with this one, which they do treat as a stand-alone guideline for some reason.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Wow, what a pig's breakfast, riddled by inconsistencies.

I write my stories in plain text so I will continue to ignore exhortations to use italics :(

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I occasionally use italics and there are even a few named ships in my story, but it never crossed my mind to let them meet each other.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
StarFleet Carl

@Crumbly Writer

Or for the SOL release, "Tandorian Imperial Trans-Galactic Starship" or TITS. 'D


Tandorian Empire Assault Transport Starship - TEATS ...

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

My recommendation to others is to go with CMOS with this one, which they do treat as a stand-alone guideline for some reason.

@awnlee jawking

Wow, what a pig's breakfast, riddled by inconsistencies.

I write my stories in plain text so I will continue to ignore exhortations to use italics

I was under the impression that about the only things which are italicized are shows and movies (i.e. not books or proper names).

Using italics would help, at least in this one instance, but I'm not sure it justifies ignoring my consistent style I've developed over the years. (I'll have to check my last "Great Death" books, which features their launching a U.S. Navy ship.)

As for always italicizing words on first use, and then using normal text, that just strikes me as odd. I can accept it for foreign words, simply as a way of introducing them to an audience, but it's inconsistent with every other style guideline, which insists you handle formatting consistently, not haphazardly.

After thinking of it, in my case, there is nothing else that the Blissful Destruction could be, so even if my readers don't remember it from when the ship first launched (how many sailors routinely mention the name of the ship their own once they're at sea), I doubt they can't figure it out on their own.

Using abbreviations, say the TES: Blissful Distruction, would just take more explanation delivered directly from the author (me) to the readers (author intrusion) to explain what they hell it means. That doesn't seem justified by any count.

I asked, so I shouldn't complain about getting suggestions, but I agree with awnlee, the results aren't terribly consistent, nor especially convincing. :(

richardshagrin
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


they have no need for a written language.


How does their Infernal Revenue Service handle tax form preparation? Do taxpayers visit a special office to think about how much they owe? It would be difficult to retain information without anything in writing. Or maybe they have librarians with special memory training to retain memories from many generations including scientific papers and entertaining thoughts like SOL does here in writing.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@richardshagrin

Perhaps they have a racial memory bank that provides selective storage and retrieval capabilities. :)

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I wonder whether the world's navies have any conventions about ship names. I would have thought printing a ship's name with a list (italics) might be considered a portent of bad luck.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
robberhands
Updated:

Another post on behalf of Ross at Play .

Ross at Play:

@Crumbly Writer

I asked, so I shouldn't complain about getting suggestions, but I agree with awnlee, the results aren't terribly consistent, nor especially convincing.

You get to choose the names of ships in your novel. I'm sure you will be careful when introducing them. I see no danger of temporary ambiguity if using names like Blissful Destroyer.

I mentioned what CMOS suggests for the benefit of others who may read this thread. As a general style choice, which all could reasonably follow all the time, I would recommend italics. In real life, many ordinary words are used to name ships - and some would sometimes lead to temporary ambiguity.

I see no danger in what you are planning to do, but I wouldn't want others thinking that was always safe. I would use italics because IMO that is always safe.

BlacKnight

@Crumbly Writer

I was under the impression that about the only things which are italicized are shows and movies (i.e. not books or proper names).

No, there's quite a list of other uses for italics.

Book titles should be italicized. Short story titles in ordinary font, double-quoted. Magazine titles italicized. Article titles double-quoted. TV shows and movies italicized, episode titles double-quoted. Album titles italicized, song titles double-quoted. Basically, larger works get italics, lesser works, especially when contained within a larger work, get double-quotes.

Foreign words (that have not been fully assimilated into English) get italics.

Ship names get italics (but, as noted, any leading acronym doesn't).

Italics can be used for emphasis, as can be seen by the typical interpretation of the HTML emphasis tag.

Standard usage would be:
TES Blissful Destruction (note, no colon, why are you putting in a colon), the Blissful Destruction, or just Blissful Destruction.

I would probably introduce the ship with the full "TES Blissful Destruction", but usually use one of the latter two forms thereafter. This shouldn't require any further explanation, though as a reader I'd wonder what TES stood for, were it not obvious.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

how many sailors routinely mention the name of the ship their own once they're at sea


At a minimum, the Captain and the ships communications officer. It would need to be used in ship to ship or ship to shore communications.

Dominions Son

@robberhands

many ordinary words are used to name ships - and some would sometimes lead to temporary ambiguity.


Even temporary ambiguity is unlikely for countries where the navy has an official prefix for ship names that is used internally and even when the ships name is stenciled on the hull.

Even without italics, there is no ambiguity in USS Enterprise beyond which ship named Enterprise you are referring to.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

I wonder whether the world's navies have any conventions about ship names.


I went to the U.S. Navy website. I clicked on an article titled "Navy to Christen Expeditionary Fast Transport Burlington." http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=104464

In the article, they don't italicize ship names:

The future USNS Burlington, designated T-EPF 10, will be the first ship in naval service to honor Burlington, Vermont's largest city. The first Navy ship Burlington (PF-51) was named for Burlington, Iowa, and served during World War II.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Thank you.

I'm not going to make political capital out of that. If authors want to use italics to avoid ambiguity, that's understandable. Just so long as they use the convention consistently.

AJ

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

how many sailors routinely mention the name of the ship their on once they're at sea


Routinely? Not many. Maybe the BotW on the Bridge doing the 1MC announcements if the CO is routinely leaving and returning to the ship for some reason. (The arrival/departure of the Ship's Commanding Officer is announced unless instructed not to, and they're announced as the name of their command arriving/departing respectively. This applies at sea(rare) or in port.)

As to communication chatter,on Bridge-to-Bridge communications(public radio channel) Naval ships will tend to avoid naming themselves if at all possible.

When it comes the military (encrypted) comms, they're going to use a call sign which isn't their ship name, but might be linked to it. Many of which would be "blatantly obvious" to someone with even a passing knowledge of the significance of the ship name(s), but that's still going to add a stumbling block for anyone eavesdropping.

...And in daily life, it is very possible for the ship to be mentioned by its given name, ano/or one of its many nicknames in the course of a normal conversation. It's probably going to be rare, on the order of a few times a week normally, but it happens.

This also ignores "command spirit" efforts where there may be deliberate mentions of the ship (nick)name in an effort to provide the crew "something to rally around."

So in some respects, chain of command might occasionally come off like teachers at a high school. (And given the age of the typical junior enlisted...)

Replies:   Not_a_ID  Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Not_a_ID

...And one example to demonstrate to a degree would probably be Crimson Tide which, IIRC, was set on the USS Alabama. Which is in turn named for the home state of "The Crimson Tide" football team...

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

How does their Infernal Revenue Service handle tax form preparation? Do taxpayers visit a special office to think about how much they owe? It would be difficult to retain information without anything in writing. Or maybe they have librarians with special memory training to retain memories from many generations including scientific papers and entertaining thoughts like SOL does here in writing.

He-he. In the story, they don't spend much time writing or reading, other than the initial passages about their studying the culture on the way there. Hence, there was no reason to invent an entirely new language, since everyone there speaks their own language, which is automatically translated for everyone else.

However, their thoughts are recorded, and the mechanism in their brains retain much of what is transmitted (what they're told, and what they say), so yeah, most information isn't formally written down, but stored genetically in living cells rather than electronic devices. In other words, less chance of a HD crashing, unless the living entity dies without saving his memories.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

I mentioned what CMOS suggests for the benefit of others who may read this thread. As a general style choice, which all could reasonably follow all the time, I would recommend italics. In real life, many ordinary words are used to name ships - and some would sometimes lead to temporary ambiguity.

Valid, and decent point. You need to use italics when the ship's name, like an unfamiliar foreign term, might be mistaken for something else, and once declared, it can then be forgotten and treated as a normal name/word. Given that context, the rule makes perfect sense.

In my case, especially in this context, where the ship's name has already been introduced in an earlier chapter, italics aren't required or necessary.

Thanks for the clarification. It clarifies the inconsistency.

Note: When the ship's name is first invoked, the characters are standing around, staring at the ship, discussing what their mission aboard it will be like, so again, it's abundantly clear their talking, not only about a starship, but one specifically designed for war.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Crumbly Writer

@BlacKnight

I would probably introduce the ship with the full "TES Blissful Destruction", but usually use one of the latter two forms thereafter. This shouldn't require any further explanation, though as a reader I'd wonder what TES stood for, were it not obvious.

That was my point. If I used "TES Blissful Destruction", I'd need to explain what "TES" stands for, even if readers already know the characters are in the Tandorian Galactic Empire. In that case, it's easier to simply drop the "TES", rather than my having to rely on author intrusion to explain what the abbreviation spells (since the characters already know). Essentially, the "TES" designation adds nothing to the story, other than introducing potential confusion.

Thanks for clarifying the point about the colon. I'm not sure where I picked up that usage. In that instance, it makes sense to italicize the ship name, but not the country of origin, so the abbreviation will not be confused for part of the name. (My head hurts, and not from a migraine.)

Replies:   BlacKnight
Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

how many sailors routinely mention the name of the ship their on once they're at sea

Routinely? Not many. Maybe the BotW on the Bridge doing the 1MC announcements if the CO is routinely leaving and returning to the ship for some reason. (The arrival/departure of the Ship's Commanding Officer is announced unless instructed not to, and they're announced as the name of their command arriving/departing respectively. This applies at sea(rare) or in port.)

Excellent point. I was referring to the normal dialogue by the characters, but I do have a few cases where one ship initiates ship-to-ship communications with another, so I'll have to modify those (also including the TES (or possibly TGES—adding the "Galactic" to the title).

Thanks for everyone who specified this common usage.

I must say, for a NAVY brat who was raised beside the North Atlantic Fleet, I really should remember this shit!

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I do have a few cases where one ship initiates ship-to-ship communications with another, so I'll have to modify those (also including the TES (or possibly TGES—adding the "Galactic" to the title).


I don't remember the specifics of the how/why behind a U.S. Navy ship using bridge-to-bridge and how they'll "normally" identify. It has been a number of years, and that wasn't something I was directly involved in.

I just remember they avoided self-identification by name because that makes things easier for others to figure out both who and where they are. As I recall, they were much more likely to use their hull number instead, but I don't remember the circumstances where they'd even provide that much. (Why they thought a hull number is harder to track than a ship name when that practice started is beyond me)

Edit: It should be noted, they make no secret of being a warship, they just don't needlessly advertise which one.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

It should be noted, they make no secret of being a warship, they just don't needlessly advertise which one.

In the few scenes where I need ship-to-ship communications, it's either not necessary to keep their location a secret (i.e. they're requesting docking permission from a planet or orbiting station) or they're making no secret of who they are (addressing the enemy directly).

Note: I won't get into the details of the latter one, as that involves story spoilers.

However, the reference of ship numbers makes sense, since you've got to be right on top of a ship to identify their hull number, while virtually anyone can get a hold of a list of active duty ships by any particular nation. Knowing one wouldn't reveal much, while revealing the other tells the enemy exactly who to attack.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

However, the reference of ship numbers makes sense, since you've got to be right on top of a ship to identify their hull number, while virtually anyone can get a hold of a list of active duty ships by any particular nation. Knowing one wouldn't reveal much, while revealing the other tells the enemy exactly who to attack.


Yes and no. Bridge-to-Bridge is vhf(line of sight, normally) communication, so unless you're either a shore station with an high elevation antenna, or an aircraft(with nautical comm gear--aka Coast Guard), range isn't normally that great. So when it comes to ship-to-ship, if they're close enough to hear you on that radio. They're presumably close enough to see you. Unless it's a shore station(or someone else with special gear) that is listening in, which is why they're reluctant to identify.

"US Navy Warship 4" doesn't immediately tell you anything useful, when there are potentially half a dozen U.S. Navy ships with a hull number of 4. (Although "US Navy Warship 954" is out of luck, you're a destroyer. Which is part of why the preference is towards just being "US Navy Warship" when possible as it makes signals intelligence/tracking more difficult.)

But reality is, the more sophisticated nations/enemies are going to quickly sift through that anyway, even without getting into visual range. Having a visual just makes it that much faster. It's hard to be difficult to identify when anybody with a reasonably current copy of Jane's Fighting Ships can quickly open up to a page listing all the active commissioned ships belonging to your country and start eliminating options based on other intel available to them.

BlacKnight
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

That was my point. If I used "TES Blissful Destruction", I'd need to explain what "TES" stands for, even if readers already know the characters are in the Tandorian Galactic Empire. In that case, it's easier to simply drop the "TES", rather than my having to rely on author intrusion to explain what the abbreviation spells (since the characters already know). Essentially, the "TES" designation adds nothing to the story, other than introducing potential confusion.


Well, that's a situation where I'd consider it obvious. They're in the Tandorian Empire, "TES" probably stands for "Tandorian Empire Ship". Even if that's not exactly right, I'd be content making that assumption and move on without thinking further about it.

I'm talking about situations where there's no obvious connection between the abbreviation and the ship's origin, which I've run into a couple of times in space mil-SF series (though I don't recall specifics offhand). Like how there's no obvious connection between "HMS" and "that's a British ship".

And I'd consistently italicize even if meaning is clear without them, so when you hit a situation where the meaning isn't clear without the italics, your readers know what the italics mean.

Dominions Son

@BlacKnight

Like how there's no obvious connection between "HMS" and "that's a British ship".


HMS = His/Her Majesty's Ship

There aren't that many other monarchy's left, certainly no other English speaking monarchies.

Replies:   BlacKnight
Capt. Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

Note: When the ship's name is first invoked, the characters are standing around, staring at the ship, discussing what their mission aboard it will be like, so again, it's abundantly clear their talking, not only about a starship, but one specifically designed for war.


I could see that happening something like this.

Observer: "So that's the Blissful Destruction. Man, that sucker is HUGE! I hear it is armed with the latest weapons and can cruise in-system at .5c. Can you imagine what the enemy will think when this baby shows up to join the battle?"

BlacKnight

@Dominions Son

HMS = His/Her Majesty's Ship

There aren't that many other monarchy's left, certainly no other English speaking monarchies.

Yes, I know what it means. But if I didn't, there's no clear way to arrive at the meaning without having it explained. Unlike, say, "USS", where the connection between that and "USA" is pretty obvious.

Readers aren't going to have preexisting knowledge of what fictional acronyms in a fictional setting mean. If the story's set in a TE, and the ship is designated "TES", they can probably figure it out for themselves. If the story's set in a TE, and the ship is designated "GPVB", they're going to need it explained that it stands for "Grand Poobah's Vacuum Boat", and the Grand Poobah is the figurehead ruler of the TE...

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@BlacKnight

Unlike, say, "USS", where the connection between that and "USA" is pretty obvious.


Unless it's a boat belonging to the Ukraine Steamship Service!

Crumbly Writer

@BlacKnight

Well, that's a situation where I'd consider it obvious. They're in the Tandorian Empire, "TES" probably stands for "Tandorian Empire Ship". Even if that's not exactly right, I'd be content making that assumption and move on without thinking further about it.

I'm talking about situations where there's no obvious connection between the abbreviation and the ship's origin, which I've run into a couple of times in space mil-SF series (though I don't recall specifics offhand). Like how there's no obvious connection between "HMS" and "that's a British ship".

In my story universe, there are only two forces, the Tandorian empire, which incorporates every known intelligent intergalactic species, and a new intergalactic species which they're in a desperate war with, so it's all "them vs. us", with the poor humans caught in the middle.

Book 3, that's an entirely different situation. 'D

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

OK, dumb follow-up question. Assuming I'm italicizing ALL uses of the ship name, "Blissful Destruction" (which the U.S. military doesn't do consistently), then how should I format "The Blissful Destruction's warriors?

"If the military brass was more willing to take chances," another of the Blissful Destruction's warriors declared, "rather than always playing it safe and watching over everyone's shoulders, this wouldn't be our only decisive win."


or

"If the military brass was more willing to take chances," another of the Blissful Destruction's warriors declared, "rather than always playing it safe and watching over everyone's shoulders, this wouldn't be our only decisive win."


or

"If the military brass was more willing to take chances," another of the Blissful Destruction's warriors declared, "rather than always playing it safe and watching over everyone's shoulders, this wouldn't be our only decisive win."

#1 seems to ignore the standard formatting entirely, #2 seems awkward, while #3 just seems plain wrong. :(

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

The Blissful Destruction's warriors


I don't have an answer on the formatting, but there's something else that seems awkward about this to me, and it may just be due to the lack of larger context.

Are these supposed to be marines or ground troops stationed on the ship or part of the ship's operational crew?

If it's the latter, the use of warriors seems a bit of a stretch.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Are these supposed to be marines or ground troops stationed on the ship or part of the ship's operational crew?

If it's the latter, the use of warriors seems a bit of a stretch.

Since we (humans) haven't determined the proper services to fight in space combats, I took a stab at it. In this universe, the Navy controls the actions of the ships, including the combat, while the army units stationed aboard (marines for all practical purposes) are responsible for boarding parties. In short, the Navy's in charge, while the Army serves a purely subservient position.

However, since all communication is done via translation software, the terms are converted into familiar English terms—even if they're technically incorrect. Thus, if the humans involved don't know Marines from flat-foots, they'd hear "Army".

Yet, in the end, "warriors" is much more dramatic than are "Army/Marine units", as 'warriors' would include ALL military personnel on board a combat vessel. After all, if a ship is breached, everyone, soldiers and support personnel included, are likely to die regardless of role served.

I can switch Army for Marines, but I'm not convinced it would make the story any more compelling to non-military personnel.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Blissful Destruction's warriors


From what I read, the ship's name is in italics but the apostrophe-s is not.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

From what I read, the ship's name is in italics but the apostrophe-s is not.

That's what I assumed, but I just wanted to be sure since it looks so odd in print.

And what was the final decision with the ship name in italics? Does each use of the ship name get italicized, or only the first use? I ask, because both options were ventured, with some complicating details by military websites which contradict the other guidelines.

Again, in my case, once I introduce the TEW Blissful Destruction, it's pretty obvious it's a warship, even if it's not italicized. My aliens don't go for such wimpy, generic names such as "The Enterprise". 'D

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Does each use of the ship name get italicized, or only the first use?


If I remember, CMOS always italicizes a ship name. It's a style, not a punctuation rule.

BlacKnight

I use #2. No one has ever complained.

And, yeah, if you're going to italicize, always italicize. There's no point in having a style guideline if you only follow it sometimes.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Are these supposed to be marines or ground troops stationed on the ship or part of the ship's operational crew?


This is an "important" item in the modern setting. Present day Amphibs have a small detachment of Marines on board to perform the role of "interface" between the Navy Crew and whomever the "passengers" are. (Although that gets a bit "weird" when those passengers are Navy themselves--SEAL Teams, Seabees, LCAC/LCU crews, etc) That detachment is part of the Ship's complement, and are considered crew.

The "passengers" are part(s) of yet another command that just happens to be embarked onboard, and normally will have its own chain of command present, complete with CO/XO equivalent, and normally of commensurate rank as the Ship's Commanding Officer.

As such, they're NOT "the Ship's Troops" but rather troops which happen to be embarked on the ship. So "proper form" would be to refer to those troops by their unit designation(s).

I am given to understand that Aircraft Carriers (generally) adhere to comparable protocols with regards to the Air Wing. Where you end up with a Ship CO, an Air Group CO, and then somebody else on board they'll probably both answer to(typically an Admiral--who is NOT "The Captain" for the ship.) Although in the absence of such "third factors" in play, SOPA(Senior Officer Present Afloat) will prevail, and he's going to be the guy who had held their rank the longest, unless other very specific arrangements were made.

I would expect things to be structured such that they try to ensure the Ship's CO is the senior officer. So while the Air Group isn't part of the Ship's Chain of Command, the Ship's CO can give the embarked airgroup orders as SOPA.

The SOPA practice in general provides for all kinds of weird things to follow suit, depending on how their boundaries are defined. Such as the Navy (numbered) Fleet commands often being a form of SOPA based on geography(where you are) at present. While groups of ships themselves have a command chain specific to them regardless of location. (And then potentially have yet another chain of command based upon their ship type and/or current taskings. A ship could quite literally find itself taking commands/inputs from multiple different command chains at the same time. I imagine there is "of course" a protocol for how to sift through conflicting orders, although in general they shouldn't happen to start with. Ie. While the type command exists, its role is more administrative in nature than operational, so it's doing the maintenance and training planning for ships of that type, and scheduling/assigning ships to (task) groups as warranted. Where ships remain until "returned," so while the ship may still be in contact with them to communicate needs and for planing purposes, no "operational authority" exists during that time(meanwhile, the Fleets "SOPA" type authority also means the group commander answers to the Fleet's instructions if they give any); which isn't to say other considerations don't come in--basically equivalent to a crewmember going on a temporary assignment elsewhere. They may not be at their command currently, but they know they're going back to it.)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

Thanks for the details, but I was trying to avoid making this a 'U.S. 6th Fleet in Space' tale. The alien culture is completely different than ours, and only the various titles are tacked on in the humans' mind so they have some conception of how the various roles fit together. Again, that understanding isn't precise, it's simply the closest approximation they can comprehend without studying their manuals for months.

I've gone out of my way to demonstrate that what the humans face is completely alien, and they're just along for the ride, as they're considered 'unwanted naive newbies'. Still as always, they manage to upset everyone around them.

In this world, there is essentially ONE 'Space Force', conducting all missions outside of each planet. This military command consists of two segments, the Navy, which operates the ship, launches all battles, and has ultimate control over all operations. All the support personal are part of this Navy. The Army is restricted to off-shipboard operations, including boarding foreign vessels AND flying attack shuttles (so it's really partially Army AND Air Force). Thus the ship's captain issues the commands, and the Army commander issues orders to his people as they engage in the actual hand-to-hand and shuttle-to-shuttle combat.

What I didn't want to do, was to try and explain the differences between this alien culture and the U.S. military, or try to transplant our military structure on a foreign world's. It's bad enough that a thousand different world's all speak the same 'language' via a common interface. The fact that everything is 'completely different' should cover any overlap.

I'm sure active duty members and vets will hate the story, as it doesn't parallel what they faced on a daily basis the way many 'Space Marines' stories do, but I'm going for a 'fish out of water' type of story, where they humans don't understand what's happened, yet still have keen insight into what the aliens themselves don't see.

Basically, the humans only gain entry into their culture because of a single technological glitch, and they use that single glitch to change a dysfunctional society for the better. Again, this is not an extraterrestrial Human military, it's an alien culture's military. I'm sure I skip over a million niggling details, but like the misplaced humans, their position offers them certain advantages the aliens themselves don't enjoy.

Maybe I should post it with a disclaimer: "Not for military personnel!" :(

Replies:   Dominions Son  Not_a_ID
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

The Army is restricted to off-shipboard operations, including boarding foreign vessels AND flying attack shuttles


1. Don't forget repelling the other guy's boarding parties.

2. Think of the shuttles like helicopters, all of the big fixed wing craft (bombers/heavy cargo transports) are Air Force as are most* of the "fast movers" (fighters), but both the Army and Marine Corps have their own transport and attack helicopters, separate from the air force.

*The Marines have some fighters of their own.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

1. Don't forget repelling the other guy's boarding parties.

I won't, but in this story, there aren't any active boarding parties. The humans survive by rigging the game and avoiding any fatal military attacks.

But the army has their own fleet of fighters and shuttle crafts, while the Navy, controlled by the starship's captain, generally only has access to ship-to-ship shuttles for transferring goods and personnel.

As for 'repelling', that's everyone's job, because if the enemy makes it on board, they'll kill anyone they encounter, so in that situation, everyone becomes a 'fighter'. They also have 'security personnel', who are responsible for determining likely accesses and vulnerabilities and are assigned to safeguard those points.

Now, what did this have to do with formatting again?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

As for 'repelling', that's everyone's job, because if the enemy makes it on board


To some extent yes, but the ship's on-duty operational crew needs to keep operating the ship even during a boarding action.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

To some extent yes, but the ship's on-duty operational crew needs to keep operating the ship even during a boarding action.

That's assumed, but the humans are either on the bridge, or in the halls preparing defensive actions (i.e. they don't get to fly those neat tactical fighters).

Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

Thanks for the details, but I was trying to avoid making this a 'U.S. 6th Fleet in Space' tale. The alien culture is completely different than ours, and only the various titles are tacked on in the humans' mind so they have some conception of how the various roles fit together. Again, that understanding isn't precise, it's simply the closest approximation they can comprehend without studying their manuals for months.


It isn't so much that, some of the previous wasn't just an effort to detail how it is structured. Some of that was an effort at why in thumbnail. I will fully agree that some of the military's organizational aspects are rather chaotic, at least on surface.

Some aspects only make sense with a central command and control for the whole force. Such as having Airborne Divisions of the U.S. Army whose means of deploying to the field is controlled by the U.S. Air Force. Operationally, that makes little sense, but economically it makes a lot more. They(Army Airborne) don't redeploy on a strategic level that frequently, so those assets would generally be sitting idle most of the time otherwise. So placing those craft into their own command structure where they can perform various taskings "as needed" rather than just that one single task allows for better utilization of existing assets.

Likewise why the Navy Amphibious Ships, both the large named ocean-going, and the smaller landing craft, exist with their own respective commands. A 1 to 1 relationship would be awesome from an operational perspective, but the economics of it says that 1 to Many makes more sense. So instead of having assets constantly sitting idle, as needed taskings make more sense for those units. As such, they exist as their own organizational unit.

This also ignores the additional level of those more specialized vehicles needing maintenance. Less of an issue when it is "just a tank" that needs work. More of an issue when it is a transport that can move 10 tanks at a time. Much more of an issue when it is a ship that can move 200 tanks in one go. Particularly so when that ship going into maintenance takes it out of service for years at a time.

Operationally and economically, it makes sense to move those other "smaller parts" that are not directly related to that ship into another different ship at such times. Rather than sideline an entire carrier air wing and/or Army/Marine Batallion for 3+ years while the USS Provisoner is getting overhauled.

But if the economics/culture of your setting say that their military organization is okay with such things happening, then more power to them.

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