A basic tradition of Navy is that all ships commissioned in a navy are referred to as ships rather than vessels, with the exception of submarines, which are known as boats. The prefix on a ship's name indicates that it is a commissioned ship. For example, USS is an acronym which expands to United States Ship; in the Royal Navy, HMS expands to Her Majesty's Ship (or when a King reigns, His Majesty's Ship; in the Indian Navy, INS expands to Indian Navy Ship, and so forth.

An important tradition on board British naval vessels (and later those of the U.S. and other nations) has been the ship's bell. This was historically used to mark the passage of time on board a vessel, including the duration of four-hour watches. They were also employed as warning devices in heavy fog, and for alarms and ceremonies. The bell was originally kept polished first by the ship's cook, then later by a person belonging to that division of the ship's personnel.

Another important tradition is that of Piping someone aboard the ship. This was originally used to give orders on warships when shouted orders could not have been heard. The piping was done by the ship's boatswain and therefore the instrument is known as the boatswain's Pipe or boatswain's call. The two tones it gives and the number of blasts given off, signify the order given. It is also used in a ceremonial way, i.e., to "pipe" someone aboard the ship — usually captains, including the ship's captain, and more senior officers.

In the United States, the First Navy Jack is a flag that has the words, "Don't Tread on Me" on the flag. This has traditionally, since the 19th century, been believed to date from the American Revolutionary War, However historical evidence suggests this was a 19th century mis interpretation of an 18th century engraving.

By English tradition, ships have been referred to as a "she". However, it was long considered bad luck to permit women to sail on board naval vessels. To do so would invite a terrible storm that would wreck the ship. The only women that were welcomed on board were figureheads mounted on the prow of the ship. In spite of these views, some women did serve on board naval vessels, usually as wives of crewmembers.

Despite their acceptance in many areas of naval service, women were not permitted to serve on board U.S. submarines until the U.S. Navy lifted the ban in April 2010. The major reasons historically cited by the U.S. Navy were the extended duty tours and close conditions which afford almost no privacy. The United Kingdom's Royal Navy has had similar restrictions. Australia, Canada, Norway, and Spain previously opened submarine service to women sailors.

The custom of firing cannon salutes originated in the British Royal Navy. When a cannon is fired, it partially disarms the ship, so firing a cannon for no combat reason showed respect and trust. The British, as the dominant naval power, compelled the ships of weaker nations to make the first salute. As the tradition evolved, the number of cannon fired became an indication of the rank of the official being saluted.

Related Post