Base Designations

Suffixes are added to these to create complete designations.
Where no suffix is used, the initial letter is used twice (i.e. DD).
A suffix is often added to an existing two- or three-letter abbreviation at a later date (i.e. DDG, AGF, SSGN).

A –– Auxiliaries
B –– Battleship/battlecruiser
C –– Cruiser
CV –– Aircraft Carrier (originally a cruiser derivative)
D –– Destroyer
F –– Frigate
L –– Ampbibious ships (derived from “L” for “Landing”)
M –– Mine craft
P –– Patrol craft
S –– Submarine
Y –– Yard craft

Suffixes
These and others are added to base designations to create complete designations.
Many suffixes (i.e. M) have many meanings; only the most common modern-usage meanings are listed.

A –– Attack or Auxiliary
B –– Ballistic Missile
C –– Command/Control
D –– Destroyer or Dock
E –– Escort (combatants); Ammunition (auxiliaries)
F –– Fast or Fleet or Refrigerated Stores or Fire Support
G –– Guided Missile (AAW) (large vessels) or Gun (small vessels)
H –– Helicopter or Hospital
K –– Cargo
L –– Light
M –– Missile (surface-to-surface) or Missile Tracking
N –– Nuclear Power
O –– Oil (tanker)
P –– Personnel/Troop Transport
R –– Repair or Replenishment or Roll-On/Roll-Off (cargo)
S –– Surveying or Salvage or Submarine
T –– Tug or Transport
U –– Utility
V –– Heavier-Than-Air (later fixed wing) Aircraft or Vehicle (transport)
W –– Water

CV –– Aircraft Carrier
CVA –– Attack Aircraft Carrier
CVAN –– Nuclear Powered Attack Aircraft Carrier
CVE –– Escort Aircraft Carrier
CVL –– Light Aircraft Carrier
CVN –– Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier
CVS –– ASW Aircraft Carrier (sometimes Seaplane Carrier, esp. WWII)

Source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/shusn-no/cv-no.htm

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