Russian ship naming conventions

Russian Ship Naming Conventions

Russian ship naming conventions

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The Russian and Soviet Navy's naming conventions were similar to those of other Nations. A problem for the non-Russian reader is the need to transliterate the Cyrillic names into the Latin alphabet. There are often several different Latin spellings of the same Russian name

Pre revolution

Before the revolution, the Imperial Russian Navy used the following convention


Russian Battleships were named after:
  • Battles – e.g., Gangut, Petropavlovsk, Poltava, Sinop, Chesma, Borodino
  • Royals – e.g., Imperator Pavel I, Pyotr Veliky, Tsesarevich
  • Saints – e.g., Georgy Pobedonosets = St George, Andrei Pervozvanny = St Andrew
  • Generals – e.g., Knyaz Suvorov, Knyaz Potemkin Tavricheskii
  • Traditional – e.g., Retvizan


Russian Cruisers were named after

  • Mythical figures – e.g., Rurik, Askold, Bayan
  • Admirals – e.g., Admiral Makarov, Admiral Lazarev
  • Gemstones – e.g., Zhemchug = pearl


Russian destroyers were named after adjectives e.g. Burnyi = Stormy, Smeliy = Valiant


  • Named after birds or animals – e.g., Albatross
  • Ethnographic names – e.g., Donskoy Kasak = Don Cossack


Named after fish or animals – e.g., Morzh = Walrus, Akula = Shark

Soviet times


The Soviets changed the names of many ships after they took power in 1917

  • Royal names were changed to republican names, e.g., Volya=Free Will, Grazhdanin = Citizen
  • The Gangut Class dreadnoughts were named after Revolutionary themes, but......
  • ...

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