One of the first official functions of a submarine pre-commissioning unit
is to develop the ship's own distinct coat of arms - or crest - which reflects
the heritage embodied in the ship's namesake. Unique in design for each ship,
the crest represents the ship's identity throughout its service life and helps
foster unity and esprit de corps.
As the crew is gathering, the nuclear engineers attend a reactor plant
design school at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) in Schenectady, NY.
Traditionally, a local artist on the KAPL staff assists the crew in developing
an initial crest that KAPL then uses to personalize the training material and
signage for the courses. As orders and contact information for the initial
crew members began to come in, the command asked the crew to provide input
into an initial design for the ship's crest. YN2(SS) Matthew McMinn led the
effort collecting design element from the crew, while KAPL's Jason Watson
created the artistic renderings.
After reviewing several drafts, the command decided to focus on one
central design with two distinct outlines. The first outline encompasses the
state's shape while the second is circular for use in a traditional challenge
coin design. Both outlines encompass many of the same Washingtonian design
elements. The proposed crests were then sent to various organizations seeking
A central theme in the design is a submarine shape adorned with a
traditional Northwestern Native American Orca design. The crew takes their
nickname from this design, Blackfish.