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Emblem for new ship USS Manchester full of symbolism

By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 03. 2016 10:38PM


MANCHESTER — The crest for a new Navy combat ship named for the Queen City features a number of ties the vessel shares with its namesake.

Cmdr. Emily Bassett, commanding officer of the next USS Manchester, said she wanted the ship’s crest to reflect the city itself and its industrial roots in an emblem that also recognizes a new chapter in the Navy’s defense on the high seas.

“It’s our mark. It’s what represents the ship,” Bassett said Friday from San Diego, where a package recently arrived containing the final design.

Bassett and Cmdr. Kurt Braeckel, her executive officer, set out to create the coat of arms after visiting Manchester in April to learn about the city’s culture and history.

“It really was a collaborative effort that went through many renditions to make sure we really got it right,” Bassett said. “We wanted to honor both the spirit of the city and the spirit of the crew that will be sailing it.”

Bassett and Braeckel were on a training assignment in Rhode Island this spring when they made the day trip north on a Saturday. The visit included a meeting with Mayor Ted Gatsas, who showed the Navy officers the city’s own crest and explained the various symbols and their meaning. Some of the city crest is evident in the new ship emblem, including the city motto of “Labor Vincit” — Latin for hard work prevails or conquers.

Bassett said she and Braeckel knew right away they had found the motto for the Littoral Class Ship (LCS) still under construction in Mobile, Ala. The new class of combat ship is designed to maximize the abilities of a trimmed-down crew size.

The city seal’s flexed human arm holding a hammer also caught their eye; they replaced the hammer with a trident to give it a more nautical theme.

The trident hangs above a blue banner with “LABOR VINCIT” scrolled across with a spoked gear wheel standing out in gold near the top.

Above the spokes stand nine stars, a number Bassett said she and Braeckel chose to represent the nine battle stars awarded to the first USS Manchester during the Korean War.

The nine stars had another meaning that Bassett said she was unaware of until U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., pointed out that New Hampshire was the ninth state admitted to the Union.

As the ship’s official sponsor, Shaheen christened the vessel in May at a ceremony at the shipyard in Mobile, Ala.

“Just like the ship itself, this crest is a wonderful tribute to the city,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Adopting Manchester’s motto, ‘work conquers,’ as the ship’s motto is a meaningful gesture and I’m confident that the crew will live up to it as they defend our nation.”

The crest also pays homage to the original USS Manchester, a cruiser decommissioned in 1956, with the stars as well as a pair of gold anchors — one for the original and another for the one still being built — on a blue shield flanking a silhouette of the ship’s trimaran hull design.

“We wanted to capture that uniqueness — that special nature of this particular hull shape in the crest,” Bassett said.

At the top of the shield, wavy white lines stand out from the blue as a symbol of the Merrimack River, which powered Manchester to its place as an industrial hub in the 19th century.

Bassett said an earlier version featured a brick pattern representing Manchester’s Millyard buildings, but that just didn’t work out graphically.

“The ship and the brick were too close together,” Bassett said. “It looked like the ship might have been running aground.”

The Army’s Institute of Heraldry coordinates designs for official emblems and insignia for all branches of the U.S. military.

Bassett said the emblem will adorn caps for the crew and the ship’s letterhead for official correspondence.

“I’ve been on five completely different classes of ship, but this is the first one that I have had the honor to command,” she said.

Bassett said the vessel should be commissioned into service in late 2017.

She recommended Portsmouth as the location for the commissioning, and hopes to learn in the next few months if the Navy approves.

dalden@unionleader.com


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