OUR SHIP's BADGE Based on the design on HMS ADVENTURE (M23), our badge is represented by a large anchor accompanied by the Cross of St. George on the left and the clàrsach harp on the right, representing England and Ireland respectfully, in a field of Blue (Royal) representing an endless sea, full of adventures ahead!
The Navy League of Canada established a position of Inspector of Badges/Inspecteur du insignes, in 1995, to design, approve, produce and maintain corps badges. All unit badges (and specifically ships’ and corps badges) used by the Canadian Forces and the Navy League of Canada conform strictly to the rules of heraldry and these rules will be applied to all submissions, approved designs and maintenance of Sea Cadet corps and Navy League corps badges.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE SHIPS’ BADGE In the days of sail, every naval ship had a figurehead at the stem which represented the ship’s spirit or personality and, where possible, her name. As sail was replaced by steam, and wooden ships by iron or steel, figureheads naturally disappeared. Although sometimes the figurehead from a preceding wooden ship of the same name would be cut off and mounted on the quarter deck of the more modern vessel. Another form of bow embellishment also developed to decorate the straight stems of iron warships. This was gilded scrollwork, often with a heraldic device representing the ship’s name, fitted high up on the ship’s stem and flowing back on both sides of the bow above the hawse pipes. It is this heraldic device that probably represents the direct ancestor of the ship’s badge, as we know it today. As ship design became less decorative and more functional, the scrollwork was dropped and the heraldic device was often displayed as a bronze or brass casting on the quarterdeck or on the tampions of the ship’s guns. It was still unofficial and was not placed in any sort of frame, but gradually the idea took hold that the badge stayed with the name, even in a new ship of different type to the old. However there was no organized system involved and designs could be changed at the whim of the captain. This system continued up to and during World War One. The war, however, produced such an enormous and rapid expansion of the British Royal Navy (RN) that the whole business of ship identification, -- which had muddled along fairly well under the unofficial systems in a smaller navy -- became entirely chaotic. In 1919 it was decided to set up a proper system of ships' badges and for this purpose the College of Arms, the official arbiters of heraldic matters in England, was brought into the picture. The College determined that a badge could not exist just as a device alone, but must be contained within an appropriate "frame". For this purpose they designed the frame that is used up to the present time. This frame consists of an outer border of rope, ensigned by a "naval crown" and with a nameplate superimposed on the upper portion of the badge just below the crown. Several shapes of this frame were used to distinguish different types of ship, namely:
Circular -- for capital ships; Pentagonal --for cruisers; Shield-shaped -- for destroyers and submarines; and Lozenge-shaped -- for carriers and auxiliary vessels.
It should be noted, it was the badge device itself that represented the ship’s name, not the shape of the frame, since the latter was changed if the ship's classification changed or if a new ship with a different function replaced an older one of the same name. During the period between the wars a small Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), while itself not having any official system of badges, tended to follow the RN system and produced a number of heraldically acceptable badges. These were mostly shield- shaped, as befitted destroyers, and were distinguished for the RCN by three green maple leaves on a white field, placed above the main device and below the nameplate. World War Two produced such an overwhelming increase in the RCN that no real badge policy was practicable. Captains and their crews designed all sorts of unofficial ships' badges. The huge majority were totally unheraldic and a great many of the "comic book" character variety.
After World War Two, a firm policy was laid down (as by the RN in 1919), dictating that all badges must conform to heraldic rules. At this time, an official badge outline for the RCN was also developed. This consisted of the circular frame of rope for all ships, regardless of type; the naval crown; and the nameplate. The three separate green maple leaves in the upper part of the badge were replaced, for Canadian identification, with three slightly overlapped gold maple leaves overlying the bottom of the rope border. Since the rope is also gold in colour, the leaves show up only in outline.
In 1984, similar badges were approved for Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps (RCSCC/CCMRC). These are the same size and design to those used for HMC ships, but are distinguished by the use of the three red overlapping maple leaves in place of gold. Also, all nameplates are gold with black Corps name letters.
In 1988 the pattern for Navy League of Canada Cadet Corps was established as a sevensided, heptagonal badge surmounted by the Naval crown, with the three maple leaves signifying the cadet services in the base. In 1995 a" shield shape was produced for Navy League Corps Squadrons.
THE FRAME OF THE BADGE The frame or outline of the badge follows definite rules, which may not be altered except as specifically permitted. It consists of four elements:
1. The Naval Crown - This consists of a gold circlet on which are mounted the sterns and sails of square-sailed sailing ships alternately. The sails are always shown as white; the remainder (including the pennants flying from the masts) are shown gold. The jewels in the circlet are shown in outline only and are not colored.
2. The Name Plate - This bears the name of the ship or corps only. It does not include the letters, HMCS, RCSCC/CCMRC etc., and does not bear the ship's number or corps administrative file number. For Canadian Navy ships, any contrasting colors may be used for the lettering and background of the nameplate. For RCSCC/CCMRC badges it has been ruled that all corps names will be in black on a gold background. For NLCC/NLWC/CCLN or CWLN the nameplate should also be gold with black letters. If the field is black, blue, green or red white letters can also be used.
3. The Rope Border - In general (and for all newly formed Sea Cadet corps), the circular shape is used. However, a special dispensation has been made for corps name for RN ships that have traditionally employed one of the other shapes, i.e., AJAX, COURAGEOUS, FURIOUS, ILLUSTRIOUS, IMPREGNABLE, SCARBOROUGH, VINDICTIVE. They may continue to use that shape so long as the corps remains in existence. Should these specific corps be shut down and a new corps assume the name, the circular shape will apply. The border is gold throughout. For NLCC/NLWC/CCLN the same rule will apply. The rope border and base is all gold.
4. The Maple Leaves - These must be red for all Royal Canadian Sea Cadet corps and Navy League Cadet corps, including those named for existing HMC ships (which themselves use the gold outline maple leaves). It is not acceptable for cadets to wear ship's badges purchased directly from the ship. Commanding officers of HMC ships do not have the authority to allow Sea Cadets to wear CF ship approved badges. Commanding officers of Sea Cadet corps must recognize that each element have specifically approved badges and must not allow for the wearing or use of unapproved badges on CF cadet approved uniforms or other areas such as plaques, letterhead, posters or accoutrements.