Most Popular Vessel Names in the US

I updated the Merchant Vessels of the United States database today. That’s a big file (~375k entries) and it serves as an interesting collection of personal and merchant vessels.

(There’s a minor error in the import, in that about 10% of the entries – in the Os through Rs – are duplicated. I’m working on correcting that problem. Also, apologies about the layout in this blog post, particularly with the tables. Not sure what the problem is, but I’ll try to correct it.)

Unfortunately, the US Coast Guard has changed their system, and NOAA has dropped their version of the database altogether, so you can no longer link directly to a specific ship. This is very frustrating, but I can’t control other sites’ setups. The URL will take you to the search page, and you can search again for the ship name that you’d found in ShipIndex.

The Coast Guard has also removed tons of personal information about owners of recreational vessels. The remaining information will still be useful to some.

MVUS also creates an interesting opportunity to look at a really large data set, and get a good sense of what vessel names are most appealing to the most people in the US.

The owners of merchant vessels generally don’t want duplication in ship names, and they don’t care about puns, so they may have hundreds of ship (or, more commonly, barge) names that are just identification, such as:

SCF 1001 B
SCF 1002 B
SCF 1003 B
SCF 1004 B

SCF 28106B
SCF 28107B
SCF 28108B

and about 750 in between them. (It’s interesting to see the differences in formatting; clearly, different people are following different guidelines – or a lack of any guidelines – when registering corporate barges.)

There are many collections of these nearly-nameless vessels. What’s much more interesting is the recreational ships. I can’t possibly list all of the silly pun-ified names in the collection, but trust me – they’re there. For instance:

  • Buoy Low, Sail High
  • Eileen With the Wind
  • From Pier to Eternity
  • Seas the Day
  • Vitamin Sea
  • Fuelish Pleasure
  • Sails Call
  • Water You Looking At
  • Yachta Yachta Yachta – though this one made me gag because I’ve always HATED the “yadda yadda yadda” phrase, thanks to a colleague in grad school

We find lots of variations on names; here’s a collection of names based on VW’s 1990s “Fahrvergnügen” campaign:

  • Fahr Frum Wurken II
  • Fahrfromwurken
  • Fahrfrumwerken
  • Fahrfrumwurk
  • Fahrfrumwurken
  • Fahrvomstressen
  • Far From Workin’ II
  • Farfromworkin
  • Farfrumfarmin
  • Farfrumwerken
  • Farfrumwerken 2

Or look at all of these variations on one name:

  • Meant 2 B
  • Meant 2 Be
  • Meant II B
  • Meant II Be
  • Meant II Sea
  • Meant To B
  • Meant To Be
  • Meant-2-B
  • Meant2Be
  • Meant To Be 2
  • Meant To Be III
  • Meant To Be, Too” (I had to remove the comma from this one, as the database would have cut off the ship name at the comma.)


I am annoyed by people who add “SS” or, worse, “USS” or “HMS” in front of their boat names. In these cases, since this is the MERCHANT Vessels of the US, I kept those bits, because they actually are part of the name of the ship, unlike naval vessels, where the “USS” or “HMS” is a descriptor. I did delete a ton of “R/V”, “S/V”, “MV”, etc., which I felt were errors – in those cases, I don’t think the descriptor was intended to be part of the ship name, because the vessels really are “Research Vessel”, “Sailing Vessel”, Merchant Vessel”, etc. It is hard to know, I’ll admit.


So, getting to it – what are the most common names in US recreational boats? From the 375,164 vessels registered in MVUS, as of June 2020, 170,143 (45%) have unique names. Many of these are the nameless named barges, but whoever registered “3 Kids 3 Motors & Broke”, “Abbigator”, “Yankee Tootle Two”, “Hen House With Rooster”, and “Dirty Little Oars”, are all in a class by themselves, together.


30,820 (8%) vessels have one partner somewhere else in the US with the same name. See the remaining distribution below:

No. of InstancesNo. of NamesNo. of Vessels% of Vessels
Distribution of Ship Names in Merchant Vessels of the US, June 2020

Note: This analysis is very basic; I didn’t combine vessel names that are nearly the same, like “Ain’t Mis Behavin”, “Ain’t Misbehavin”, “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, and “Ain’t Miss Behavin” (of which there’s one each of the first three, and two of the last; should they be combined under one name, with a count of five instances?).

Here are the top 50 registered vessel names, by count, in the US:

Ship NameNo. of Vessels
Serenity 486
Second Wind289
Island Time250
Happy Ours236
Island Girl229
Blue Moon224
Seas the Day213
Morning Star212
Dream Catcher206
Carpe Diem203
Pura Vida196
At Last189
Southern Cross180
Time Out176
Endless Summer172
Double Trouble169
Summer Wind167
Imagine 159
Why Knot159
Free Spirit157
Most Common Vessel Names, per Merchant Vessels of the US, June 2020

I was particularly struck by “Ohana”; I didn’t know what that means, until looking it up and learning that it’s a Hawaiian term for “family”, broadly. Makes sense now.

Anyway, this has become a much-too-long blog post. I hope you found something interesting and useful in it.

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