The seal of the United States Navy dates back to 1780, seeing many different versions over the past 225 years. While many elements have changed, perhaps more interesting are the design elements that have remained the same despite a rapidly changing naval service.
For most, a Google search for the “Navy Seal” mostly leads to results centered on the Navy Seals, followed quickly by a giant headache. This, however, is where our heraldry team really shines. So, without further ado, here are five things you didn’t know about the seal of the United States Navy:
The very first seal was adopted in 1780 by the Board of Admiralty, from which the Navy originated. The seal contained 13 bars in alternating red and white, presumably representing the original 13 colonies.
When comparing the original seal to its modern counterpart, a few elements have remained the same over the past 225 years, most notably the three-masted vessels under sail, a throwback to original traditions, and the luce-type anchor towards the bottom of the image.
After the Modern department of the Navy was founded in 1798, the service has seen a multitude of new seal designs. Every seal, however has incorporated the same four basic elements: the sea, ship under sail, eagle and anchor.
The current seal, adopted in 1957 by President Eisenhower, features a few major differences from the original, including the presence of shoreline to symbolize the Navy’s land-based efforts.
Additionally, the current seal contained a significant wording change. Atop the seal, previous versions had contained the phrase “Navy Department” which had generally come to signify only the headquarters activities in Washington. For the current version, the inscription was changed to “Department of the Navy” in order to embrace the Navy’s total world-wide operations afloat, in the air, and ashore.
All images credit: US Navy
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