U.S. Navy


If you’re a collector or aficionado of US Navy patches, this is the place for you! The first semi-official Navy organizational insignia for both ships and aviation units began to appear following World War I, and for the latter, really took off in 1922 with the formation of fighting (VF), scouting (VS), observation (VO), seaplane patrol (VP), and torpedo (VT) squadrons. Before the decade ended, many of these were using distinctive emblems that have since become widely recognized. These were selected by the squadrons and then drawn up and submitted to the Bureau of Aeronautics for official approval. In those early years there were no rules pertaining to aviation insignia, but the designs generally reflected the squadron mission and, in some cases, their location. During World War II, insignia for surface ships and submarines (called crests by the Navy) became the rule rather than the exception, and emblems for shore establishments were created too. As the number of units rapidly grew, the number of insignia exploded too, so much so that even with the contributions provided by Walt Disney and Warner Brother’s Studio, the artists could barely keep up. The majority of emblems were officially approved—and therefore recorded—but, sadly, many were not and remain unidentified today. There were still no rules pertaining to emblems during the war, so when things settled down after it ended, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) issued OPNAV Instruction 5030.4 in early 1950, encouraging units without emblems to create one and setting out some basic “do’s and don’ts.” There have been seven revisions since then (the current one is 5030.4G). Today, aviation insignia must be approved by the CNO’s Director of the Air Warfare Division (OPNAV N98). Emblems approved prior to publication of the first instruction have been grandfathered, even if they fail to comply with the latest instruction’s directions—provided there is no change to the original design. With the exception of the contributions by artists at the studios in Hollywood during WWII, nearly all emblems in the early years were designed by and for unit members, and even today, the prospective commanding officers of new ships are responsible for designing the crests and submitting them for approval. Although they have great leeway in determining the design, most also rely on the services of The Institute of Heraldry which is staffed by professionals. Every approved emblem is recorded by the Naval History and Heritage Command. Aviation insignia of current units may be viewed on their Website, and some ships’ crests are contained on The Institute of Heraldry’s site. Unfortunately, there is no central repository for all Navy insignia. But, whether afloat, aloft, or ashore, nearly everyone in today’s Navy can claim a patch that proudly announces their membership in the world’s premier navy! Hopefully, you’ll find it displayed here. If not, keep checking because more are being added all the time—and you, too, are invited to contribute images. We’re glad to have you aboard!