NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The crew of Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) continue to experience historic firsts in the life of the Navy's newest class of aircraft carrier, the latest of which is the creation of the ship's crest.
The crew of PCU Gerald R. Ford along with the director of Visual Information Services from Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic, the Ford presidential library and the ship's sponsor, Mrs. Susan Ford Bales collaborated to create the crest, which incorporates quite a few symbols that represent the 38th President of the United States, and the spirit of his service to the Navy and the nation.
"The biggest attribute that we have on there is the compass, which you can refer to as a moral compass. That was what ruled Gerald R. Ford's life," said PCU Ford Commanding Officer, Capt. John F. Meier. "As we talked with Susan Ford Bales, our ship's sponsor and other Ford family members, it's become extremely evident that Gerald Ford was a man of integrity above all else. He made decisions he knew would not be popular, but did what he felt was right and I really admire that."
The crew of PCU Gerald R. Ford can draw many parallels with their namesake, and many of the symbols incorporated into the ship's crest point to the values they have in common, like the world map, which represents the ship's global presence and also hearkens back to the President's Naval service.
"President Ford is a fantastic role-model for the crew," said Meier. "His service to country really is limitless. He was a young lawyer when the attack on Pearl Harbor happened, Dec. 7, 1941. He volunteered to join the Navy, sailed into harm's way and saw combat in World War II, not unlike the Sailors who are in this command who joined the service following the attacks on the US on 9/11. A lot of folks saw that attack and immediately their response was, 'Well, how do I serve my country?' And they went and signed up for the Navy. I love that aspect of our namesake."
During his life, President Ford embodied principles that are encapsulated in the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.
"If you think about Navy core values, I think that they're summed up best as integrity," said Meier. "The common definition people use is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. I think it goes a little more deep than that. A theme of integrity is so vital to this ship; for a crew to rally around that, I think it's enormously important. I think if we serve with integrity, if we serve with honor, we will make the right decisions, we will do the best possible thing for Gerald R. Ford, for the United States Navy and our nation."
Also featured on the crest is the ship's motto, which is something Capt. Meier believes all Sailors serving aboard should take to heart.
"For me, you could not ask for a better theme," said Meier. "'Integrity at the Helm' is the Ford Foundation's motto, and I think it's wholly fitting that not only is it their motto, but it's the motto of the USS Gerald R. Ford. It aligns us with the Ford Foundation. It really speaks to our namesake's legacy of integrity."
The ship's crest incorporates many symbols reminiscent of President Ford's life and legacy, including a Fleur de Lis on the compass pointing true North, which comes from his rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts; 38 stars surrounding the emblem to represent his tenure as 38th President of the United States - 26 stars are a different color to note his time stationed aboard USS Monterey (CVL 26) during World War II. The crest's colors include blue and maize for his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Michigan, and blue and white from his time at Yale, where he attended Law School.
For more news from Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn78/.