RCN adopts redesigned command badge

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Crowsnest - Winter 2017 / February 1, 2017

By Darlene Blakeley

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has adopted a redesigned command badge that better reflects both the current RCN makeup and its traditional identity.

The original badge was adopted in 1968 with the stand-up of Maritime Command after unification. It has been out of date since 2011 when the historic names of the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) three services – the RCN, the Canadian Army (CA) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) – were restored.

“Like the return to our historic name, the redesigned command badge recognizes our heritage and many years of proud RCN service,” says Dr. Rich Gimblett, the RCN’s Command Historian. “It takes its core inspiration from the pre-unification command badge.”

The redesigned command badge incorporates the following modifications:

The background light “air force” blue has been replaced with dark navy blue, which matches the pre-unification badge and better reflects the RCN’s traditional blue;

The central device (anchor) has been flattened to reflect the device found on the pre-unification badge and for consistency with the anchor found on the CAF badge. Also, the eagle has been removed to better reflect the RCN’s current makeup; and

The motto, “Ready Aye Ready”, already translated for common use in French as “Toujours là, toujours prêts”, has been translated to the Latin “Parati Vero Parati” for consistency with the army and air force badges. The English and French translations will be used below the badge where appropriate.

For uniformity within the CAF, the redesigned command badge retains the standard CAF command badge style with a central circular rope surround and maple leaves clustered at the bottom.

And while the RCAF design element of the eagle has been removed from the new RCN command badge, Dr. Gimblett says it will continue to be a central part of the Canadian Naval Ensign (flag) flown aboard warships.

“The eagle is inappropriate on the command badge as the RCN does not maintain an air branch within the command anymore,” explains Dr. Gimblett. “However, continued incorporation of the eagle on the Canadian Naval Ensign is entirely appropriate because our warships are CAF assets and the embarked RCAF air detachments historically have been, and are expected to remain, critical elements of their combat capability.”

The introduction of a redesigned command badge follows a number of other important changes in recent years that recognize the importance of the RCN’s history and origins. These include restoring the Executive Curl for naval officers in 2010; reinstating the command’s historic name in 2011; and in 2013 authorizing warships to fly a distinctive Canadian Naval Ensign, consistent with standard Commonwealth naval practices.

“These changes have not only been well received, but have quickly become part of our core identity and pride of service,” says Dr. Gimblett.

What is a badge?

A badge is a distinctive sign, symbol or emblem used to visu­ally identify a military organiza­tion and foster the pride and cohesiveness necessary for operational effectiveness. Official badges formally identify an indi­vidual branch, formation or unit, and the primary badge of each organization is personally approved by the Governor General as the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Navy primary badges evolved from ship figureheads and unofficial insignia. In Canadian service, they were centrally regulated based on the use of common badge frames and ship livery colours beginning in the middle of the 20th century.