Sailors fear advent of HMS Fluffy as 'cuddly' ship names find favour

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 April, 1998, 12:00am

The Royal Navy has come under fire over the names it chooses for its ships, which sailors claim are too 'cuddly' for vessels designed to blow enemies out of the water.

The war of words comes amid a government review of defence strategy and the future role of the Navy and the other armed forces.

The first salvo was fired in a letter published in the Navy News, signed by the crew of the frigate HMS Brave which is returning to Britain after a seven-month tour to the Falklands.

The crew claim their ship is the only one in the Navy with a 'hard as nails' name suitable for a fighting ship.

They take particular objection to HMS Beaver, which they say sounds like nothing more than a fluffy animal. 'Are we to continue the trend towards inoffensive, soft and cuddly and occasionally dull ship naming?' the letter asks.

A spokesman for the Royal Navy said careful consideration was given to naming ships. 'Obviously we wouldn't deliberately think of something like HMS Fluffy.' A special committee takes into account suggested names' historical significance, civic connections and military resonance.

The First Lord of the Admiralty, the head of the Royal Navy, decides on what name to award the ships with the ultimate decision being left to Queen Elizabeth in the case of the bigger fighting ships such as aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

Captain Peter Kimm said the name of a ship could have an effect on the morale of its crew. 'I think sailors take pride in their ship and it's easier to be proud if your ship has a macho name,' the retired captain of the destroyer HMS Agincourt said.