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Encyclopedia > Pennant number
HMS Leeds Castle, launched in 1943 as a corvette with pennant number K384, was redesignated a frigate in 1948 and given the new flag superior "F" as seen here.
HMS Leeds Castle, launched in 1943 as a corvette with pennant number K384, was redesignated a frigate in 1948 and given the new flag superior "F" as seen here.

In the modern Royal Navy and other navies of Europe and the Commonwealth, ships are identified by pennant numbers (sometimes referred to as pendant numbers). The name pennant number arises from the fact that ships were originally allocated an pennant (flag) identifying a flotilla or particular type of vessel: for example, in the Royal Navy, the red burgee for torpedo boats, H for torpedo boat destroyers. By the addition of a number to the identifying pennant, each ship could be uniquely identified. A pennant number thus consists of letters and numbers. Where a letter precedes a number it is known as as a flag superior and where it is a suffix it is known as a flag inferior. Not all pennants have a flag superior. This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... HMS Leeds Castle was a Castle-class corvette of the Royal Navy, originally with pennant number K384. ... French steam corvette Dupleix (1856-1887) Canadian corvettes on antisubmarine convoy escort duty during World War II. A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, smaller than a frigate but larger than a coastal patrol craft. ... For the bird, see Frigatebird. ... The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the oldest of the British armed services (and is therefore the Senior Service). ... World map showing Europe A satellite composite image of Europe Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of the Earth. ... The Commonwealth of Nations (CN), usually known as the Commonwealth, is a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states, the majority of which are former colonies of the United Kingdom. ... A pennant is usually a narrow tapering flag most commonly flown by ships at sea. ... Flags are particularly important at sea, where they can mean the difference between life and death, and consequently where the rules and regulations for the flying of flags are strictly enforced. ... A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to launch torpedoes at larger surface ships. ... Image File history File links ICS_Hotel. ... A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to launch torpedoes at larger surface ships. ...

Contents

Royal Navy Systems

The system was adopted prior to World War I to distinguish between ships with the same or similar names, to reduce the size and improve the security of communications, and to assist recognition when ships of the same class are together. Traditionally , a pennant number was reported with a period "." between the flag superior or inferior and the number, although this practice has gradually been dropped, and inter-war photos after about 1924 tend not to have the period painted on the hull. The system was used throughout the navies of the British Empire so that a ship could be transferred from one navy to another without changing its pennant number. Combatants Allied Powers: Russian Empire France British Empire Italy United States Central Powers: Austria-Hungary German Empire Ottoman Empire Bulgaria Commanders Nicholas II Aleksei Brusilov Georges Clemenceau Joseph Joffre Ferdinand Foch Herbert Henry Asquith Douglas Haig John Jellicoe Victor Emmanuel III Luigi Cadorna Armando Diaz Woodrow Wilson John Pershing Franz... // The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. ...


Pennant numbers were originally allocated by individual naval stations and when a ship changed station it would be allocated a new number. The Admiralty took the situation in hand and first compiled a "Naval Pennant List" in 1910, with ships grouped under the distinguishing flag of their type. In addition, ships of the 2nd and 3rd (i.e. reserve) fleets had a second flag superior distinguishing from which naval depot they were manned; "C" for Chatham, "D" for Devonport, "N" for Nore and "P" for Portsmouth. Destroyers were initially allocated the flag superior "H", but as this covered only one hundred possible combinations from H00 to H99 the letters "G" and "D" were also allocated. When ships were sunk, their pennant numbers were reissued to new ships. Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway in Kent, England, came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, and thus requiring added defences. ... Devonport in 1909, courtesy WW1 Archive Devonport Dockyard and the Hamoaze from the Rame Peninsula, Cornwall Her Majestys Naval Base (HMNB) Devonport (HMS Drake), is one of three operating naval bases in the Royal Navy. ... N.O.R.E. formerly known as rapper Noreaga, is a member of the rap group C-N-N. N.O.R.E. stands for Niggaz on (the) run eatin. He is currently signed to Def Jam Records and Roc-A-Fella Records. ... Portsmouth is a city of about 189,000 people located in the county of Hampshire on the southern coast of England. ...


The flag superior for whole ship classes has often been changed while the numbers stayed the same. For example, in 1940, the Royal Navy swapped the letters "I" and "D" around (e.g. D18 became I18 and I18 became D18) and in 1948, "K", "L" and "U" all became "F", where there was a conflict, a 2 was added to the front of the pennant number.


During the 1970s the service stopped painting pennant numbers on submarines on the grounds that, with the arrival of nuclear boats, they spent too little time on the surface, although submarines do continue to be issued numbers. HMS Lancaster was initially allocated the pennant number F232, until it was realised that in the Royal Navy, form number 232 is the official report for ships that have run aground; sailors being superstitious, it was quickly changed to F229. HMS Lancaster (F229) is a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy. ...


World War II

Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States France Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Charles de Gaulle Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hirohito Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead...

No Flag Superior

Pennant number 13 was not allocated.

  • Capital Ships, Aircraft Carriers, Cruisers

Flag Superiors

Pennant numbers 13 were not allocated to flag superiors. The letters J and K were used with three number combinations due to the number of vessels.

USS Lassen, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet or battle group and defend them against smaller, short-range attackers (originally torpedo boats, later submarines and aircraft). ... The capital ships of a navy are its important warships; the ones with the heaviest firepower and armor. ... Four aircraft carriers, Principe-de-Asturias, USS Wasp, USS Forrestal and HMS Invincible (front-to-back), showing the difference in size between a supercarrier, light V/STOL carriers, and an amphibious carrier. ... USS Port Royal (CG-73), a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser (really an uprated guided missile destroyer), launched in 1992. ... USS Pivot (AM 276) World War II United States Admirable Class Minesweeper shown in the Gulf of Mexico on sea trials 12 July 1944 Image:Hameln Class. ... French steam corvette Dupleix (1856-1887) Canadian corvettes on antisubmarine convoy escort duty during World War II. A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, smaller than a frigate but larger than a coastal patrol craft. ... For the bird, see Frigatebird. ... A Destroyer Escort (DE) is a small, fast warship designed to be used to escort convoys of merchant marine ships. ... A sloop-rigged J-24 sailboat A sloop (From Dutch sloep) in sailing, is a vessel with a fore-and-aft rig. ... A minelayer is a naval ship used for deploying sea mines. ... A river gunboat is a type of gunboat adapted for river operations. ... An auxiliary ship is a naval ship which is designed to operate in any number of roles supporting combatant ships and other naval operations. ... A modern Icelandic trawler A trawler is a fishing vessel designed for the purpose of operating a trawl, a type of fishing net that is dragged along the bottom of the sea (or sometimes above the bottom at a specified depth). ... A drifter is a type of fishing boat. ...

Flag Inferiors

Flag inferiors were applied to submarines. Royal Navy submarines of the "H" and "L", and some transferred American vessels, were not issued names, only numbers. In these cases, the pennant number was simply the hull number inverted (i.e. L24 was issued pennant "24L"). Pre-war photos show the pennants painted correctly, with the flag inferior, but wartime photos show that the numbers tend to be painted "backwards", in that the inferior was painted on as a superior. For obvious reasons, the inferior "U" was not used so as not to confuse friendly ships with German U-boats. For similar reasons "V" was not used. Pennant numbers 00—10, 13, and those ending in a zero were not allocated to flag inferiors. U-boat is also a nickname for some diesel locomotives built by GE; see List of GE locomotives October 1939. ...

The River class, or Thames class were a class of submarines built for the Royal Navy. ... Length: Beam: 15. ... The L class submarines were a class of 27 British diesel-electric submarines built for the Royal Navy during World War I. They were larger versions of the successful E class and some survived to serve in the Second World War. ... The Grampus class submarines were a group of minelaying submarines built for the British Royal Navy in the late 1930s. ... The Odin class submarine or O class was a class of six submarines developed and built for the Royal Navy. ... The Parthian class submarine or P class was a class of six submarines developed for the Royal Navy. ... The British V class submarine (officially U-Class Short hull 1940-41 program[1]) was a class of 34 submarines built for the Royal Navy during World War II. The V-class submarines were very similar to the preceding U-class (long-hull) boats, but had thicker, welded pressure plate... The S-class submarines of the Royal Navy were designed and built during the modernisation of the submarine force in the early 1930s to meet the need for smaller boats to patrol the restricted waters of the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. ... The Royal Navys T class (or Triton class) of submarines was designed in the 1930s to replace the O, P and R classes. ... HMS Alliance at Gosport submarine museum The Amphion class (also known as the A class) of diesel-electric submarines were ordered by the Admiralty in 1943. ... USN redirects here. ... The Rainbow class submarine or R class was a class of foursubmarines built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s. ...

Post-1948

After World War 2, in 1948, the Royal Navy rationalised the pennant number system to a system where the flag superior indicated the basic type of ship as follows. "F" and "A" use two or three digits, "L" and "P" up to four. Again, pennant 13 is not used (for instance the current Ocean - L12 - is followed by Albion - L14; The sixth HMS Ocean (L12) of the Royal Navy is a Landing Platform, Helicopter Cruiser, the only one in its class, built by Kvaerner Govan on the Clyde taking advantage of commercial build methods and facilities, before sailing from Barrow-in-Furness for fitting out prior to acceptance into service... The ninth and current HMS Albion (2001-present) is a state of the art Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ship of the Royal Navy. ...

  • A — Auxiliaries (vessels of Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service, Royal Navy Auxiliary Service, includes depot ships, boom defence vessels etc)
  • C — Cruisers
  • D — Destroyers
  • F — Frigate (former escort destroyers, sloops and corvettes)
  • H — Hydrographic vessels
  • L — Amphibious warfare ships
  • M — Minesweepers
  • N — Minelayers (currently none in service, therefore unused)
  • P — Patrol boats
  • R — Aircraft carriers
  • S — Submarines
  • Y — Yard vessels

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) is the service that keeps the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom running around the world. ... Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service ensign The Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service is a British Government agency which runs a variety of small support vessels for the Royal Navy. ... The Royal Navy Auxiliary Service (RNXS) was disbanded on 31 March 1994. ...

Flotilla bands

1925-1939

From 1925, flotilla leaders were issued with but did not paint on pennant numbers. Instead, a broad band 4 feet deep was painted round their fore-funnel. Divisional leaders wore a pennant number and had a narrower 2 feet deep band on the fore-funnel, painted 3 feet from the top. The Mediterranean Fleet wore black leader bands and the Atlantic - later Home Fleet wore white bands. The flotillas wore combinations of bands on their after funnel to identify them. From 1925 the following bands were worn; A flotilla leader was a warship suitable for commanding a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships, typically a small cruiser or a large destroyer. ... The Mediterranean Fleet was part of the Royal Navy. ... The British Atlantic Fleet was a major fleet formation of the Royal Navy. ... The Home Fleet is the traditional name of the fleet of the Royal Navy that protects the United Kingdoms territorial waters. ...

  • 1st Destroyer Flotilla — one black band
  • 2nd Destroyer Flotilla — two black bands (one red from 1935)
  • 3rd Destroyer Flotilla — three black bands
  • 4th Destroyer Flotilla — no bands
  • 5th Destroyer Flotilla — one white band
  • 6th Destroyer Flotilla — two white bands
  • 8th Destroyer Flotilla (from 1935) — one black and one white band

1939-

When single funnelled destroyers entered the fleet with the J class in 1939 and with an expansion in the number of flotillas, the system was changed accordingly. Single funnelled ships wore a 3 feet deep band as a flotilla leader. As a divisional leader they had a 2 feet wide vertical band the same colour as, and extending 6 feet below, the upper flotilla band. Leaders bands were white for Home Fleet, red for Mediterranean Fleet, and the system of flotilla bands changed to; The J, K and N class was a class of 24 destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1938. ...

  • 1st Destroyer Flotilla (Mediterranean) — 1 red, G class
  • 2nd Destroyer Flotilla (Mediterranean) — 2 red, H class
  • 3rd Destroyer Flotilla (Mediterranean) — 3 red bands, then none, I class
  • 4th Destroyer Flotilla (Mediterranean) — none, Tribal class
  • 5th Destroyer Flotilla (Mediterranean) — none, K class
  • 6th Destroyer Flotilla (Home) — 1 white, Tribal class
  • 7th Destroyer Flotilla (Home) — 2 white, J class
  • 8th Destroyer Flotilla (Home) — 3 white, F class
  • 9th Destroyer Flotilla (Home) — 1 black & 2 white, V and W class
  • 10th Destroyer Flotilla (Home) — none, V & W class
  • 11th Destroyer Flotilla (Western Approaches) — 1 black over 2 red, V and W class
  • 12th Destroyer Flotilla (Rosyth) — 1 white over 1 red, E class
  • 13th Destroyer Flotilla (Gibraltar) — 1 white over 2 red, V and W class
  • 14th Destroyer Flotilla (Home) — 1 red over 1 black, V and W class
  • 15th Destroyer Flotilla (Rosyth) — 1 red over 2 black, V and W class
  • 16th Destroyer Flotilla (Portsmouth) — 1 red over 1 white, V and W class
  • 17th Destroyer Flotilla (Western Approaches) (from 1940) — 1 red over 2 white, Town class
  • 18th Destroyer Flotilla (Channel) — 1 white & 1 black, A class
  • 19th Destroyer Flotilla (Dover)— 1 white over 2 black, B class
  • 20th Destroyer Flotilla (Portsmouth) — 2 white over 1 black, C class
  • 21st Destroyer Flotilla (China Station) — 2 white over 1 red, D class

Early into the war the bands soon fell out of use as ships were camouflaged and war-losses, operational requirements and new construction broke up the homogeneity of the destroyer flotillas. Vessels were deployed as and when they were needed or available, and were often incorporated into mixed "escort groups" containing a range of vessel types such as sloops, corvettes, frigates and escort carriers. A few of the escort groups adopted funnel bands; others like B7 Group wore letters on their funnels. HMS Hunter pictured before the war showing the original design of the class with flat-fronted bridge. ... HMS Hunter pictured before the war showing the original design of the class with flat-fronted bridge. ... HMS Inglefield The I class was a class of eleven destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1936–1937. ... The Tribal class, or Afridi class, were a class of destroyers built for the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Australian Navy that saw service in World War II. // From 1926 all Royal Navy destroyers had descended from a common lineage based upon the prototypes Amazon and Ambuscade. ... The J, K and N class was a class of 24 destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1938. ... The J, K and N class was a class of 24 destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1938. ... The E and F class was a class of eighteen destroyers of the Royal Navy (three later transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy, one to the Royal Hellenic Navy and one to the Dominican Navy) launched in 1934. ... HMS Wolverine from astern The V and W class was an amalgam of very similar oil-fueled destroyer classes built around the end of the First World War for the Royal Navy. ... Western Approaches Command was a major operational command of the Royal Navy during World War II. The command was responsible for the safety of British shipping in the Western Approaches. ... Rosyth (pronounced Ross-sythe) (Scottish Gaelic: Ros Saoithe) is located on the Firth of Forth on Scotlands east coast, a mile (1. ... The E and F class was a class of eighteen destroyers of the Royal Navy (three later transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy, one to the Royal Hellenic Navy and one to the Dominican Navy) launched in 1934. ... Portsmouth Naval Dockyard. ... Western Approaches Command was a major operational command of the Royal Navy during World War II. The command was responsible for the safety of British shipping in the Western Approaches. ... The Town class destroyers were warships transferred from the United States Navy to the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy in exchange for military bases in the Bahamas and elsewhere, as outlined in the Destroyers for Bases Agreement between Britain and United States, signed on 2 September 1940. ... Satellite view of the English Channel The English Channel (French: La Manche (IPA: ), the sleeve) is the part of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the island of Great Britain from northern France and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. ... The A class was a class of eleven destroyers of the Royal Navy, which included the flotilla-leader Codrington. ... Arms of Dover Borough Council This article is about the English port town. ... HMS Brilliant The B class was a class of nine destroyers of the Royal Navy, launched in 1930. ... The C and D class was a class of fourteen destroyers of the Royal Navy. ... The C and D class was a class of fourteen destroyers of the Royal Navy. ... USS Constellation, a United States Navy sloop-of-war. ... For the automobile, see Chevrolet Corvette. ... For the bird, see Frigatebird. ... The escort aircraft carrier or escort carrier, was a small aircraft carrier developed by the U.S. Navy in the early part of World War II to deal with the U-boat crisis of the Battle of the Atlantic. ...


Post-war

After World War 2, were no longer identified by bands, but by large cast metal numbers bolted to the funnels. Flotilla leaders continued to display a large band at the top of the funnel, however.


Deck codes

Aircraft carriers and vessels operating aircraft have a deck code painted on the flight deck to aid identification by aircraft attempting to land. This was in a position clearly visible on the approach path. The Royal Navy uses a single letter (typically the first letter of the ship's name) for aircraft carriers and large vessels operating aircraft and pairs of letters for smaller vessels. These are usually derived from letters from the ships name. The United States Navy, with their larger fleet, uses numeric part of the hull classification number (a system analogous to pennant numbers). Deck codes used by contemporary major British naval warships include; USS , a typical supercarrier, and HMS Illustrious, a light V/STOL aircraft carrier on a joint patrol Flight deck of USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) doing a high speed turn during her acceptance trials. ... USN redirects here. ...

  • RFA ArgusAS
  • HMS AlbionA
  • HMS BulwarkB
  • HMS OceanO
  • HMS InvincibleN
  • HMS IllustriousI
  • HMS Ark RoyalR
  • HMS FearlessFS
  • HMS IntrepidIS

RFA Argus (A135) is an aviation training ship with a secondary role of primary casualty receiving ship in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. ... The ninth and current HMS Albion (2001-present) is a state of the art Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ship of the Royal Navy. ... HMS Bulwark is an Albion-class landing platform dock, the UKs newest class of amphibious assault warship. ... The sixth HMS Ocean (L12) of the Royal Navy is a Landing Platform, Helicopter Cruiser, the only one in its class, built by Kvaerner Govan on the Clyde taking advantage of commercial build methods and facilities, before sailing from Barrow-in-Furness for fitting out prior to acceptance into service... The sixth and current HMS Invincible (R05) is a light aircraft carrier, the lead ship of three in her class. ... The fifth HMS Illustrious (R06) is an Invincible-class light aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy, affectionately known as Lusty to her crew. ... HMS Ark Royal (R07), the last Invincible-class light aircraft carrier to be completed, is the fifth ship of the Royal Navy named in honour of the flagship of the English fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada. ... HMS Fearless (L10) was a landing platform dock of the Royal Navy. ... HMS Intrepid (L11) was a landing platform dock of the Royal Navy. ...

International pennant numbers

Several European NATO and Commonwealth navies agreed to introduce a pennant number system based on that of the Royal Navy. The system guarantees that, amongst those navies and other navies that later joined, all pennant numbers are unique. The United States, as mentioned before, does not participate in the NATO system; its ships are identified by a unique hull classification symbol. The Commonwealth of Nations (CN), usually known as the Commonwealth, is a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states, the majority of which are former colonies of the United Kingdom. ... The United States Navy uses hull classification symbols (sometimes called hull codes) to identify the types of its ships. ...


Participating countries, with their assigned number ranges [1], include:

  • Australia (uses US hull classification symbols now)
  • Belgium — (9xx; M: 4xx)
  • Denmark — (N: 0xx; M/P: 5xx; F/S/Y: 3xx)
  • France — (R: 09x; C/D/S: 6xx; M/P/A: 6xx, 7xx; L: 9xxx)
  • Germany — (D: 1xx; F: 2xx; M: 1xx, 26xx)
  • Greece — (D/P: 0x, 2xx; A/F: 4xx; L/S/M: 1xx)
  • Italy — (5xx; M/A: 5xxx; P: 4xx; L: 9xxx)
  • Kenya
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Netherlands (8xx; Y: 8xxx)
  • Norway (F/S/M: 3xx; P: 9xx; L: 45xx)
  • Poland
  • Portugal (F/M: 4xx; S: 1xx; P: 11xx0)
  • Spain (0x)
  • South Africa
  • Turkey (D/S: 3xx; F: 2xx; N: 1xx; A/M: 5xx; P: 1xx, 3xx, L: 4xx; Y: 1xxx)
  • United Kingdom (R: 0x; D: 0x & 1xx; F: 0x, 1xx, 2xx; S: 0x, 1xx; M: 0x, 1xx, 1xxx, 2xxx; P: 1xx, 2xx, 3xx; L: 0x, 1xx, 3xxx, 4xxx; A: any)

The NATO pennant number system added the Y (for yard) symbol for tugboats, floating cranes, prams, docks and the like. The United States Navy uses hull classification symbols (sometimes called hull codes) to identify the types of its ships. ...


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Pennant number - Encyclopedia, History, Geography and Biography (267 words)
HMS Leeds Castle, launched in 1943 as a corvette with pennant number K384, was redesignated a frigate in 1948 and given the new flag superior "F" as seen here.
A pennant number consists either of a letter (known as a flag superior) followed by a number, or just a number (as not all pennants have a flag superior).
When ships were sunk, their pennant numbers were reissued to new ships.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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