The various crests, emblems, and other distinguishing insignia displayed by ships, like the coat of arms that originated in ancient days, they add a touch of color and a lot of esprit de corps to the unit to which they belong.
Some insignia describe the jobs or services performed by the ships which they represent. Others are symbolic of a high point in a ship’s career. Many are drawn up with some specific location in mind. For example, the city or state after which a ship is named.
All of these insignia, however, are symbolic of the pride Sailors feel in their own unit. These crests, or emblems, have for many years been one way of providing the men and women in the Fleet with something that truly belongs just to their ship.
A beneficial effect on morale has long been attributed to the adoption by a ship’s company of a crest or emblem, and its use in connection with recreational and social activities.
It wasn’t until World War II that unit crest insignia came into popular use throughout the Navy. Relatively few ships had them during World War I and the 1920s and 30s.
While on extended World War II patrols crew designed their own ship crests and upon returning to home port proudly flew them on battle flags. Many shipboard personnel wrote to leading artists to have their unit immortalized with a personal coat of arms. Others held contests among themselves and came up with works of art that were indeed their own.
Today a good many ships, aircraft, squadrons and divisions have their emblems pictured on stationery, plaques, patches, coins, hats, shirts, uniforms, and many other items.
The USS Indiana Crest Contest is open to anyone in high school, college or post-graduate who would like to submit a crest design.
Click here for the guidelines:
Click here for the contest application: