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Hull Naming and Numbering System

Warships have ship names. Because ships are floating territories, they often perform various combat services independently or jointly with other arms. To facilitate leadership, communication, and confidentiality, each ship has its number and name since its birth. The Chinese Navy's ships are no exception.

Most of the ships owned by the PLAN Navy since 1949 were old ships that had been converted, captured and repaired by the National Government from Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, and then from the ships receiving the former Soviet military support. After the war of resistance against the United States and aid of the DPRK, the Chinese government was determined to accelerate the pace of construction of the People's Navy. On June 4, 1953, China and the Soviet government signed a "Navy Order Agreement" to import some combat ships from the Soviet Union, including four destroyers.

General Xiao Jinguang, commander of the Navy, believes that although these four ships were all outstanding warships of the Soviet Union during World War II, they were not built by us after all. Based on self-reliance, we must strive hard and strive for the early design and construction of large warships. Self-reliance depends on a strong industrial base. Therefore, the names of the four warships were designated as China's four major industrial towns "Anshan", "Fushun", "Changchun", and "Taiyuan."

After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the revolution, modernization, and regularization of the Chinese Navy have also reached a new level. Ships have strict and uniform standards for naming ships. On November 3, 1978, the Central Military Commission approved the plan for naming naval vessels. On November 18, the Navy issued the "Naval Vessel Naming Regulations", which made the name of the People's Navy ship from disorderly to orderly. The regulations stipulate that the ship s name and port number are the troop numbers and codes assigned by the leading authority when the ship is incorporated into the battle sequence. At the same time, the naming rules and relevant regulations for various types of ships were promulgated.

The number of the vessel (also known as the ship number, which is a number written on both sides of the ship) is regular, the destroyer is a three-digit number starting with "1"; the frigate is a three-figure number starting with "5"; the supply ship number is three digits starting with "8"; the landing craft is a three-digit number starting with "9"; each type of ship has 99 positions available for numbering. The suffix H means "to the sea" and the suffix K means "to the air".

The Navy can use an old number on a new ship to re-enable the decommissioned vessel numbers. This is contrary to an international practice, in which names are frequently reused, but the ships are given different numbers to reduce confusion. The Chineser practice is conducive to the inheritance of honor and history. It has a strong incentive effect for the military. Sea Bing 722 is an example of the old numbering of auxiliary ships reused. The new ship has increased its displacement by more than 1,000 tons compared with the old ship.

Auxiliary ships are named after the sea area and nature plus a number, such as East drag XXX, North cable XXX, South save XXX, etc. Sea ice 722 is facing the whole sea area, is an icebreaker, it has a prefix of sea ice. The number of the other ships in service are "Sea Bing 721" and "Sea Bing 723". This part of the Chinese naming system is both more informative and more confusing that the practice of other countries, such as the United States Navy in the 20th Century. Although the US Navy naming "system" has become almost completely deranged, at one time the name of the ship indicated the ship class. Hence, battleships were states, battlecruisers were territories, heavy cruisers were large cities, light cruisers were smaller cities, and so on. Of course, the utility of this system was predicated on a knowledge of American geography.

The Chinese system is remarkably rigorous, as the two element of the name indicate the fleet to which the vessel is assigned, as well as the mission that it performs. The Chinese system can be confusing, because entirely unrelated ships of very different designs can be lumped into a single alpha-numeric sequence. But this should be no more confusing than the former American practice of naming submarines for "denizens of the deep" [usually fish], a nomenclature covering several dozen unrelated designs.

The meaning of the PLANs military numbering is a more open, transparent, confident and positive symbol. Gradually, the PLANs lower-level troops and the sea and air forces numbers will continue to become public. Therefore, the principle of the deployment of the PLAN's naval vessels will certainly conform to the norms of the naming jurisdiction of the Navy Regulations, promote the institutionalization of development, improve the military transparency, and of course demonstrate self-confidence in its military capabilities.

Although there are basically certain naming logics for the name and the ship's name of the PLAN's naval vessels, it is still possible to figure out certain clues according to the naming regulations of the ship. However, the name of the ship that has recently served is compared with the fleet that it has served in service. Many inconsistencies with the principles of their naming jurisdictions are just a principle of forming a naming convention. They are also a thorough practice of "there are exceptions to nature." Therefore, it is impossible to judge the subordinates solely by the name of the ship or the ship's name; and the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine actually use the same number, which is also the only phenomenon in the world. Perhaps these principles and exceptions are what the PLA Navy regards as a matter of course and become accustomed to it. However, from the outside world, the PLANs institutionalization of these aspects still has a long way to go. As for the path of transparency, it is even more distant.

Confucius treated a "Rectification of Names" as the key to good government: "Zilu said, 'The ruler of Wei awaits your taking on administration. What would be master's priority?' The master replied, 'Certainly--rectifying names!' . . . . If names are not rectified then language will not flow. If language does not flow, then affairs cannot be completed. If affairs are not completed, ritual and music will not flourish. If ritual and music do not flourish, punishments and penalties will miss their mark. When punishments and penalties miss their mark, people lack the wherewithal to control hand and foot. Hence a gentleman's words must be acceptable to vocalize and his language must be acceptable as action. A gentleman's language lacks anything that misses--period."(13:3)

Or as Mark Twain said, the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:07:02 ZULU