The various crests, emblems, and other distinguishing insignia displayed by ships, like the coat of arms that originated in ancient days, 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, crews 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 crest of the Virginia Class Submarine USS Indiana (SSN 789) ties the ship to it's namesake and the Hoosier State's Naval heritage.
The crest is in the shape of the state of Indiana with a blue background evoking the color of the state flag and gold outline, blue and gold representing the traditional Navy colors. Included in this background is a faint checkered flag, representing victory and tying the ship to Indiana's racing heritage. The shading of the blue is from light to dark, suggesting the depths of the ocean the ship is designed to operate and fight in. Light from Indiana’s torch shines on the hull of the submarine, showing the way as she defends the deep.
There have been two previous active warships to carry the name “Indiana”, BB 1 and BB 58. Silhouttes of these two great battleships are included on the crest just above the plinth bearing the inscription SSN 789.
Nine silver stars reflect the battle stars received by USS Indiana (BB 58) during WW II. Two gold stars placed above the torch represent the the earlier namesake ships, USS Indiana.
Two dolphins adorn the bottom of the crest to represent the submarine service. Silver represents enlisted submariners and gold represents officers. The art deco design of the crest is symbolic of the design features included in the Indiana World War Memorial in Indianapolis.
Indiana's primary industries - agriculture and manufacturing, are represented by a wheat shock and a set of gears set to each side of the “SSN 789” plinth. A small star on the forward turret of BB 58 recognizes Crane, Indiana, the third largest Naval installation in the world and a site of innovation and invention, key attributes of Indiana's heritage.
Finally, across the banner are the words “SILENT VICTORS” which is taken directly from the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' monument in Indianapolis. This phrase has double meaning for the USS Indiana (SSN 789). While memorializing Indiana’s Soldiers and Sailors, it also speaks to the the Victorious Silent Service of submarine USS Indiana (SSN 789).
Mr. Jason Watson is a native of Indiana. He is currently a senior graphic artist working in upstate New York. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio. A native of Columbus, Indiana he has strong ties throughout the State and it's early History.
On his mother’s side, his Indiana family history dates back to 1804 when his great-great-great-great grandfather, John Kennedy Graham moved to Indiana at the age of 21. In 1813 he surveyed and laid out the city of New Albany. He was elected in 1816 to the state convention in Corydon and became a founding father of the state and signer of the constitution of Indiana. He then served several terms in the state Legislature and was later elected to fill a vacancy in the state Senate.
On his father’s side, his Indiana family history dates back to 1845 when his great-great-great-great grandfather Joshua A. Watson emigrated to LaPorte, IN from Lincolnshire, England. By 1854 he was able to purchase a parcel of land from a Native American widow of a French-Indian fur trader and liaison with the local Potawatomie Indians. Through further purchases, he was able to expand the size of the farm to its current size and it has continued operation in the family since that date.
From November 16, 2015 to January 31, 2016 the USS Indiana (SSN 789) held a crest design competion to develop a crest for possible official use by the USS Indiana (SSN 789), currently under construction for the United States Navy by the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Newport News, Virginia. It was to develop interest in and pride for, as well as a sense of ownership of, this vessel bearing our State’s namesake. Another purpose of the contest was to develop a symbol, that if selected, would build a sense of esprit de corps among the vessel’s crew, the crew’s family, vendors, contractors, Hoosiers and any and all others claiming any relationship with the vessel. The timeline and design criteria were as follows:
Deadline to submit Design for the crest.
Top 5 designs selected.
The winner will receive two tickets for the Commissioning Ceremony, Round-trip Airfare for two and Two night’s lodging at the site of the Commissioning, which site is to be determined at a later date.