Friday, March 19, 2010

Seeking Answers: What does the S.S. Stand for in "S.S. Minnow"

This afternoon, for some reason, we decided we wanted to know what the "S.S." in "S.S. Minnow," as in the boat that took Gilligan and the others on their infamous and infinitely prolonged three-hour tour, stands for.

Can't be too hard, I figure. What with the magic of the Internet these days, you can find an answer to just about anything. Still, we were embarrassed by this gap in our nautical knowledge. After all, we already know what USS stands for -- United States Ship -- and HMS -- Her Magesty's Ship -- but not knowing what "S.S." stands for was galling.

So, I'm told, by Wikipedia at least, that it stands for "steamship."

Really? There are no stacks on the S.S. Minnow. Identifying the ship by its propulsion as a steamship doesn't make sense. So more exploring.

This site tells me the ship was named for Newton Minow, who was chairman of the FCC in the 1960s and delivered the famous "vast wasteland" speech concerning the quality of television (he regrets that while the "vast wasteland" portion is remembered, few remember what he hoped people would get out of (and put into) televison, namely the "public good."(If you've never heard the speech, you should. It's quite riveting. Audio and text can be found here.) The site's author is also confounded by the definition of S.S., not really finding the steamship explanation satisfying.

This answer makes a little more sense, adding that "screw-driven" steam ships are called by the appellation S.S., though I still don't understand the steam ship part. So maybe I need to find out -- what kind of a boat is the S.S. Minnow?

Here's a video about the boat. The introductory text tells us the ship has diesel engines. Now, diesel engines are capable of producing steam, but would they really need that intermediary step? Maybe they just didn't want to call their ship (or similar ships) by "D.S."

 And, for now, that seems to be the answer. Not satisfying, by any means, but the answer.


Unknown said...

I just researched the same question and learned that the s.s. is in honour of the show's producer! So there's a tidbit to ponder!

Mister Fweem said...

Sherwood Schwartz! Riiiiiight!