In the case of ships, to receive a commission from the naval organization to which it belongs. A commission used to be a piece of paper granted to the captain of a ship, authorizing him in the name of the issuer (usually a monarch) to go commit acts of piracy against vessels of other nations. This is also known as a letter of marque and reprisal. As time went on, 'private' commissions became extinct, and the commission tended to be issued to the ship itself; now, when a ship is completed by the builders and delivered to the naval crew that will man it, there is a ceremony of issuing the commission to the ship. Then, and only then, can the ship be referred to as a naval vessel; in the case of the U.S., this entitles it to put the prefix U.S.S. for United States Ship in front of its name, and to be issued a unit designation (e.g. CVN-68 in the case of the Nimitz) rather than a builder's hull number.


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