Ship Hull Designations

We are frequently asked what the hull designation letters DD and FF stand for and whether they are abbreviations.

Some believe, incorrectly, that FF stands for Fast Frigate. It does not. Compared to destroyers, while fast enough to do their assigned tasks, frigates are not fast. The designations are simply because the navy uses a minimum of two letters to designate a ship type.

For example, battleships are BB and auxiliaries such as fleet oilers and ammunition ships are AO and AE, respectively. When both tasks are combined into one vessel it is an AOE. Nuclear-powered vessels will have the designator “N” as the final letter.

To aid in identifying the types here is a partial list that includes the more common ship types:

Hull Designation Description
BB Battleship
CV, CVA, CVN Aircraft Carrier
CVE Escort Carrier (sometimes called jeep carriers)
CA Heavy Cruiser
CL Light Cruiser
CG Guided Missile Cruiser
DD, DDE, DDK, DDR Destroyer
DDG Guided Missile Destroyer
DL Destroyer Leader
DLG Guided Missile Destroyer Leader
DE, DER Destroyer Escort
DEG Guided Missile Destroyer Escort
EDD Experimental Destroyer
FF Frigate
FFG Guided Missile Frigate
LCS Littoral Combat Ship
SS, SSN, SSBN, SSGN Submarines (B=Ballistic Missile)

There are many types of Landing Craft, Patrol Vessels, and Auxiliaries.

Click on the link below for the list of hull designations for that category.