In my book, Earth is gone and are all the counties and a majority of the population and cultures. A small population is left and they make a home on another planet. Now, just under 200 years later, they're a space-faring group but they like to name their starships ( both colony and military) after old places of historical meaning from their former homeworld.

Like ICP/USS Pompeii.

or ICP/USS Rome

or ICP/USS Herculaneum

or even ICP/USS Titanic.

Now, my question is will this be seen as honoring the lost town for the readers or should this be seen as using famous names for the sake of it?

I was going for the first one, because it could be that the remaining humans keeping their history alive using their ships, naming it after aspects of their culture to keep it going.

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    Am I to assume that something tragic happens to one or more of these ships? Because if you have a ship in your story called "the Titanic", I'll be more surprised if it doesn't get sunk/destroyed/whatever by the end of the story. Same with "Pompeii".
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 16:08
  • @F1Krazy Ah, well there would be the...possibility. The storyline does have a war between then and hundreds of ships would have been lost as a result. I'm mulling over the decision bc one of the names could be one of the listed. Pompeii, I personally love the name, but there would be lots of implications that could be used negatively if I do use it.
    – SKKennell
    Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 16:12
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    I would do Pompeii but I don't think I'd use Titanic, partly because of associations with the film. I think the idea of naming ships after places of historic meaning is great. Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 17:08
  • Ship naming conventions differ from nation to nation. The convention often changes depending on ship type as well. In my own writing I have been naming battlecruisers after legendary cities (real or mythical) such as Ithaca, Alexandria, Eldorado, etc... Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 16:32

3 Answers 3


Overall, there probably wouldn't be a problem with naming ships after geographical locations. Looking at a list of active British Navy ships, there are ships named after rivers (H.M.S. Tyne), and dukedoms which are now more popularly known in modern culture as cities (H.M.S. Lancaster or (H.M.S. Richmond). Chinese naval vessels are almost all named after cities or landmarks.

What they would probably not be named after, however, are places and events that have negative connotations. Sailing culture in general is very superstition, possibly due to being stuck aboard a tiny vessel where even a slight mistake can mean potential death for a long period of time, and its possible to assume for this reason the same might apply to starships. This is the reason you don't see any ships today named Titanic, aside from those looking for shock value. Such a name would be seen as tempting fate. If the purpose is to honor the memories of Earth, it is likely they would choose names that have positive connotations as well.

From a writing perspective, such a name is also a massive red flag that something is going to go wrong, to the point that Doctor Who and Futurama used it for comedic irony because it would seem so obvious to the audience and the writers couldn't make the joke with a straight face.

Schlock Mercenary has its battleships (battleplates) named after meteor impacts (Chicxulub, Manicougan, etc.), but in this case the name has a different purpose. For one, it is basically advertising "our battleship is as strong as the meteor that did this massive impact" and also ties to the primary in-universe function of battleplates as deflecting meteor strikes rather than any truly military function (prior to the plot they were mostly static defense because they couldn't fit through the gate network). And on top of that the ships are named after the impactor not the impactee (contra something like ICP/USS Pompeii).

In other words, ICP/USS Rome or ICP/USS Vesuvius are likely, ICP/USS Pompeii or ICP/USS Herculaneum are not.


Why would it be in bad taste? Allusions to real-world events have been a part of literature for as long as literature has existed. Events such as the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius are so ancient as to be inoffensive. Arguably the Titanic is there as well.


As a writer, you should be trying to manipulate the readers of your writing to achieve a specific emotional state. Evocative language, twisty plots, rich characters, and snappy dialogue are all tools of the craft. Names are especially useful. A carefully chosen name can convey loads of information in a minimum of textual space.

Some names will have a sound or shape that conveys the intended message. Dr. Yucky Slime-Mold will find it difficult to be the hero. Other names bring up memories of past events. The writer's use of these names (with their positive and negative aspects) is a part of a conversation that started in the distant past. An essential part of that conversation is the reaction that the characters in the story have to the names.

"I serve on the Spaceship Pompeii. Our ship's official motto is to 'Be prepared for damn near anything.' I have lived through more situations on this ship than I have the time to tell of or that you have the credence to believe in. It is a terrible name for a ship but it is all too fitting for a ship that flies in a universe that delights in serving up shit. And, thus, our unofficial motto is 'Bring it on!'"

Bad name? Yeah! Badder ship and crew? Oh, yeah! But maybe a better story.

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