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Once Navy - Always Navy

Norrie Ships Crests

Explanation of crests


HMS Ulster
Ulster - R83/ D83/ F83 - One of the four provinces of Ireland, comprising nine counties. The red hand of Ulster. Affiliation: County Down, Northern Ireland. Only 2 ships have had this name. Sealed Pattern done for 2nd ship, Destroyer (R83/D83/F83), 'U' class; Converted to Frigate 1954-6; Sold 4 Aug 1980, Broken Up at Inverkeithing, Scotland.

The early legend of the cutting off of the left hand, and throwing it ashore does not seem to be historically accurate, for the same story appears in many places, and is not borne out by the fact that the O'Neill's, Kings of Ulster, and all branches of that princely house invariably used the right hand as do the present representatives. All the early seals of the O'Neills have the right hand - never the left. The reason of the confusion as to right or left hand appears to have arisen in this way: On the institution of the Order of Baronets of Ulster by King James I 'a hand gules' was adopted as the badge of the new Order (right or left not specified). A dexter or a sinister hand was used indiscriminately by the

baronets for some time, but gradually settled down exclusively to the sinister hand - the ancient legend apparently carrying the day as regards the badge of the baronetcy.

As the badge of the province, however, the dexter is the right hand and is by authority so recorded in Ulster's Office. Therefore the badge of the province - 'The Red Hand of O'Neill' - argent a dexter hand gules - is authoritatively settled beyond dispute. "There should be no drops blood."


Whatever you believe:
The Red Hand of Ulster's a paradox quite,

To Baronets 'tis said to belong;

If they use the left hand, they're sure to be right,

And to use the right hand would be wrong.

For the Province, a different custom applies,

And just the reverse is the rule;

If you use the right hand you'll be right, safe and wise,

If you use the left hand you're a fool."


HMS Vigilant 
Vigilant - A prize name of 1745. Watchful or awake. Dragon symbolizes this as they are said not to close their eyes, even when sleeping. 15 ships have had this name, counting the 1st ship that had an 'E' at the end of the name. Badge designed for 13th ship, Destroyer. 14th ship, Patrol boat, was renamed Meavy in Jul 1986. Badge then passed to 15th ship, Nuclear Submarine, 'Vanguard' class, originally referred to by some sources as Venerable.

Heraldic description: On a Field Blue, a dragon couchant gardant Gold.


HMS Loch Killisport 
Loch Killisport - K628/F628 - A sea loch in Mull of Kintyre, Argyllshire, also known as Loch Caolisport (harbour on the sound). Only 1 ship has had this name, Frigate, 'Loch' class; Sold 20 Feb 1970, BU at Blyth.  

The Crown for the Ensign Staff made by Japanese Prisoners of War at Johore, Malaya in 1946 was of particularly unique design. Every piece was individually made for ease of dismantling. It is reputed to be the only Crown for a British warship to have been made by an enemy.

 On commissioning, Loch and Bay class vessels were classified as twin screw corvettes, as such (per AFO 3809 of 6 Aug 1942) were not entitled to official badges. In late 40's designation was changed to Frigate which brought them into official badge status. During intervening period the majority of these vessels had designed and displayed unofficial badges, ships were asked to submit copies of these c1940 for assessment.

 Loch Killisport was the only vessel to win approval for a badge she had worn since commissioning.

 N.H.B. notates design was ship's suggestion with derivation 'Legend of the Loch Killisport Stallion' - a legend which does not exist.

The badge design is part Arms of Campbell of Auchinbreck. Ship's first C.O. was Lt.Cdr. Walter John Rankine Campbell of this family, who decided to revert to a pre-1918 practice and placed crest from his own Arms upon ship's bridge screen. Only 1 ship has had this name, Frigate, 'Loch' class.

HMS Daring
This is Daring 1931 and 1952 (Shield) but Daring 2001 was drawn in a circle.
Explanation -  Gaius Mutuis Scaevola when take prisoner by Tarqun's forces during the siege of Rome, thrust his hand into a fire to show that the Roman spirit could not be broken.
Motto - Splendide Audax - Finely Daring
Note - Scaevola means Left Handed.

The very first Daring was a 12-gun brig, built at Ipswich and launched in October 1804. It ran aground off Sierra Leone in 1813 and was scuttled by her own crew to avoid capture by the French.  

The next Daring was built at Portsmouth and launched in April 1844. This was again a 12-gun brig and served on the North America and West Indies Stations during its 20-year life.

The third reincarnation was a 4-gun sloop built at Blackwall and launched in February 1874. This vessel served on the Pacific and China Stations before being sold to a Mr. J Cohen in 1889.

The fourth ship to bear the name of Daring was a Torpedo Boat Destroyer which was built at Chiswick and launched in November 1893. This ship was eventually sold for 6,000 in 1912.  

Following that, Daring became a Destroyer of 1,375 tons which was built by Thorneycroft at Southampton and launched in 1932. Sadly, this vessel was sunk by a U-Boat whilst escorting a convoy from Norway to the UK. Nine officers and 148 ratings lost their lives.

The sixth, vessel to bear the name Daring was a Destroyer of 2,800 tons which was built by Swan Hunter and launched in August 1949. This was sold for breaking in 1971.

The seventh was Naval Ships - Type 45 Destroyer, a guided missile destroyer, displacing 8,000 tons, Length 152.4 m(500 feet) Beam 21,2 m (69.7 feet), commissioned in 2009.


HMS Blake
BLAZON: Blue; within a circle of chain conjoined and extended in base gold a martlet white.

MOTTO: More majorem: After the manner of your ancestors

General Sir Robert Blake (1599-1657), one of Cromwell's "Generals-At-Sea", was awarded a gold chain for his victories at sea in 1653.   The martlet is from his Arms. Parliament presented him with the gold chain for his distinguished services against the Dutch in 1663. Motto was added, by ship's suggestion, in 1959. 6 ships have had this name. SP done for 6th Ship, Cruiser, (Ex-Tiger renamed Feb 1945); (ex-Blake renamed Dec 1944); Suspended 1946-54; Completed 18 Mar 1961; Sold 25 Aug 1982; BU Cairnryan. 


HMS Rhyl
Rhyl: A North Wales seaside resort and mediaeval anchorage. The parish church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

BLAZON: Blue; three anchors conjoined in the centre gold.
Explanation - Anchor alludes to Rhyl at the mouth of the River Clwyd being and important anchorage in Middle Ages. Arrangement of anchors reflect that the Parish Church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity.


HMS Zulu
Zulu - F18; F124 - A warrior tribe of South Africa. Affiliation: Ruislip, Middlesex. 3 ships have had this name. 

BLAZON:On a Field Barry, wavy of six white and blue; in front of two Zulu spears in saltire surmounted a a Zulu shield all proper.

 SP done for 2nd ship, Fleet Destroyer (F18), 'Tribal' class; 14 Sep 1942 - Took HMS Sikh in tow after she had been seriously damaged by shore fire. HMS Sikh sank during towing operation. Under heavy air attacks during which HMS Coventry was set on fire and had to be abandoned. Sank HMS Coventry. Air attacks continued and ship was disabled after sustaining major damage. Taken in tow by HM Escort Destroyer Hursley sank during passage to Alexandria in position 32.00N 28.56E. Twelve members of the ship’s company were killed, 24 Missing and one injured.

Badge updated and motto added for 3rd ship, Iva Kaligobi Swaili (The thorn bends not) Frigate (F124), Type 81 'Tribal' class; Sold Indonesia 1984 and renamed Martha Krystina Tiyahahu; Deleted 2000. 


HMS St Vincent

From the Arms of Admiral Jervis, ennobled after the battle off Cape St Vincent in 1797
Red: a demi-horse rampant silver crined and hoofed gold winged blue charged on the wing with fleur-de-lys gold

Name given to the Royal Navy Training Centre at Gosport, Hampshire (1927-1968) then the ship name for the Royal Naval personnel based in London from 1988.

Thus (From the old steering order; "Keep her thus")

Earlier version had a lighter colour blue in addition to having gold name on black background

HMS Osprey

The Fish Hawk

Blue: a fish hawk (Pandion Haliatus) volant gold in his talons a fish silver.

Name given to the Royal Naval Air Station at Portland, Dorset, in 1924..

Ne exeat: Don't let him go.

The date of change of badge colour is not recorded.

HMS Osprey & RNAS Portland, Dorset (1924 - 1999) 5 ships have had this name.

HMS Osprey was an anti-submarine training establishment established at Portland between 1924 and 1941, when its functions were transferred to Dunoon. HMS Osprey was at Dunoon until 1946, the name also being allocated to a smaller base established at Belfast in 1943. Osprey recommissioned at Portland in 1946, became a base in 1948 and was closed in 1995. The helicopter station closed in 1999. To date I have been unable to establish when it ceased to be an ASDIC school, but would be somewhere between 1959-1962. 

HMS Osprey at one point was HMS Boscawen - Commemorates Admiral Edward Boscawen (1711 - 1761). Falcon and rose are from his Arms.

After the artist of the crests had completed his upgrading, someone pointed out that he had missed out a few Royal Naval Air Stations (RNAS) See notes at bottom on ships badges page.


HMS Drake

From the Arms assumed by Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596)

BLAZON:  Blue; on a plate a wyvern passant red armed and langued blue.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Name given to Devonport Barracks, Plymouth from 1934 (originally Vivid)

MOTTO: Sic parvis magna: Thus great things arise from small.

HMS Vivid

Brilliant lighting flash against a dark sky.

BLAZON: White; a roundel per fesse wavy black and barry wavy of six white and blue charged with four bolts of lighting white.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The name of Commander-in-Chief Plymouth's yacht until 1895. From 1914 the name of Devonport Barracks, Plymouth, until 1934 when it became HMS Drake.

HMS Victory Royal Naval Barracks Portsmouth



ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:  RNB's name was changed in 1974 to HMS Nelson. This mostly due to HMS Victory still being in commission and to avoid confusion.

HMS Nelson Royal Naval Barracks Portsmouth

The design and the motto from the Arms of Vice Admiral Viscount Nelson, KB (1758-1805).

BLAZON: White; a lion rampant regardant holding in his dexter paw a palm branch embowed proper.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Name given to Royal Naval Barracks Portsmouth in 1974.

MOTTO: Palmam qui meruit ferat: Let him bear the palm who has deserved it.

HMS Vernon  Sonar, Weapon and Diving School

From the Arms and motto of Admiral Vernon (1684-1757)

BLAZON: Blue; in base water barry wavy of three white sinister a dexter arm embowed and vambraced proper grasping in the gauntlet bendwise sinister a trident downwards gold.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: HMS Vernon was the torpedo school established in 1876. She remained in commission until 1996, using a number of different hulked ships as her home until she moved ashore in 1923. The TAS School closed in 1985.

MOTTO: Vernon semper viret Vernon always succeeds

HMS Cochrane

The horse is from the Arms of Admiral Thomas Cochrane (1775-1860). He founded and served in the navies of Chile, Brazil and Greece (three anchors).

BLAZON: Barry wavy of six blue and white; in front of three anchors one erect and two in saltire gold a torteau charged with a horse passant white.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Name given to the naval base at Rosyth (1938-1996).  First at Donibristle, then moved to Girdleness and Duncansby Head ( ships) and finally to the barracks located just outside Rosyth dockyard

HMS Caledonia

The ancient name for Scotland north of the Forth/Clyde line.

BLAZON: Blue; a thistle slipped and leaved gold debruised by a St Andrew's Cross white.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The Artificer's Training ship at Rosyth (1937-1939) was the ex-liner Majestic (56,000 tons). The shore establishment paid of in 1985 but the site retained. In 1996, Caledonia was recommissioned as a "stone frigate in a refit support role for Rosyth Dockyard.

HMS Neptune

In Roman mythology, God of the Sea, brother of Jupiter and Pluto. (analogous, but not identical to, the Greek God, Poseidon.)

BLAZON: Green; a trident gold.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Chatham Reserve Fleet (1950-1960). Submarine Base, Clyde, Scotland, from 1967.

MOTTO: Regnaire est servire: To rule is to serve.

HMS Rooke

Sir George Rooke took Gibraltar in 1704 and gained the key to the Mediterranean.

BLAZON: Gold; a chess rook black

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Name given to the Boom Defence Depot at Rosyth (1940-1946), then to Gibraltar (1946-1996). In addition also name of destroyer HMS Rooke (D83), one of four Shakespeare Class; ordered 1918 and launched in 1920, renamed HMS Broke 13th April, 1920

MOTTO: Clavum teneo: I hold the key

HMS Gay Charger

All 'Gay' class MTB's had identical crests, with name changed at top: Archer, Bombardier, Bowman, Bruiser, Carbineer, Cavalier, Centurion, Charger, Charioteer, Dragoon, Fencer & Forester.

The Gays were the last petrol powered warships to be built for the Royal Navy.

HMS Gay Viking and HMS Gay Corsair, a pair of motor gun boats;  were superficially similar to the later Gay-class, although their primary armament was a mixture of QF 6 pounder Hotchkiss, Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, and depth charges. Both had left service by the top of the Gay-class' introduction.

HMS Rame Head

A headland off Plymouth on the Cornish side - hence the black and gold collar.

BLAZON: Blue; a ram's head erased regardant white armed gold gorged with a collar black charged with three bezants.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Three in class, Rame Head, Berry Head & Duncansby Head, Depot Ships.
Built in Canada as a Fort Class Merchant Cargo Ship following the outbreak of the Second World War, HMS Rame Head was acquired by the Royal Navy shortly after her completion and converted into a repair ship. Serving with the Royal Navy well into the 1970's, she was decommissioned into reserve and moored in Portsmouth Harbour.

 HMS Miner III

Small minelayers, eight built from HMS Miner I to Miner VIII.

Miner I (1939-1967), Miner II (1940-1970, Expended as target) Miner III (1940-1972) Miner IV (1940-1964) Miner V (1941-1970 Expended as target), Miner VI (1942 -1980) Miner VII (1944-1965) Miner VIII (1944-1981)


Fort Augustus Abbey School

St Benedict's Abbey, Fort Augustus on Loch Ness.

BLAZON: Blue; To be completed at later date.

MOTTO: Pax in virtute Peace in virtue

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: St Benedict's Abbey, Fort Augustus was founded in 1876 and completed in 1880.  The abbey school opened in 1920 and due to educational changes in Scotland and fewer students, closed in 1993.  With this massive lost of income, the monks finances were serious curtailed and although a recovery plan was put into place, sadly it was not a success and the abbey finally closed in 1998.

NOTABLE OLD BOYS: Lord Lovat, Sir James Calder, Lord Carmont, Archbishop Joseph McDonald and Bishop Bennett of Aberdeen.

PERSONAL NOTES: I was 'volunteered' to be the first naval instructor and was tasked to form a naval wing of the CCF (Combined Cadet Force). On HMS Neptune's Daily Orders a Seaman Petty Officer volunteer was called for, with no specific task detailed.   When no one came forward I was informed I was the 'volunteer'. However as it turned out, it was a marvellous opportunity and a task I very much enjoyed. So much so that I spent my weekends off there and which during those periods managed to turn the old disused gym into a naval wing hut.

Logo and information courtesy of Fort Augustus Abbey School Old Boys Association


Exeter Coat of Arms

Exeter (City)

County Town of Devon

HERALDIC DISCRIPTION: Party per gale gules and sable (divided vertically red and black), a castle triple-towered with a portcullis or (gold) crest (helmet) upon a wreath or sable (gold and black), a demi lion gules langued and armed azure (a half-lion in red with silver tongue and claws), supporting an orb, a cross thereon, batons or Supporters Two Pegasus argent, (flanked by two silver Pegasus), hoofed and maned or (gold) winged, barry wavy divided horizontally of six argent and azure (in six wavy bands of silver and blue).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Exeter received confirmation of the City's Arms from William Hervey, Clarenceux King of Arms during a visit to Devon in 1564. The original draft in handwriting is preserved at the College of Arms.

The motto Semper Fidelis (Ever Faithful) was suggested by Elizabeth I in a letter addressed to The Citizens of Exeter in 1588 in recognition of a gift of money towards the fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada.


Notes on Royal Naval Air Stations: The badge artists' research led him to discover that there were 71 HMS RNAS; 53 had Official badges; 18 didn't have official badges. He found that he had "missed" 13 Officials namely:-

Curlew; Fulmar; Gamecock; Gannet (2 places); Heron; Icarus; Landrail, Malabar; Merganser; Merlin; Osprey; Owl; Robin

RNAS with official crests totalled 53.

Almondbank; Ariel Blackcap; Buzzard Chough; Condor; Cormorant; Curlew; Daedalus; Dipper; Eyas; Falcon; Fieldfare; Fulmar; Gadwall; Gamecock; Gannet (2 places); Garuda; Godwit; Goldcrest; Goldfinch; Goshawk; Grebe; Heron; Hornbill; Icarus; Jackdaw; Kestrel; Landrail; Malabar; Merganser; Merlin; Nightjar; Nuthatch; Osprey; Owl; Peewit; Peregrine; Pintail; RaJaliya; Raven; Ringtail; Robin; Sanderling; Seahawk; Sheba; Siskin; Sparrowhawk; Tern; Ukussa; Urley; Valluru; Vulture.

RNAS without official crests totalled 18

Corncrake; Europa; Flycatcher; Humming Bird; Kipanga; Kipanga II Nabaron; Nabberley; Nabhurst; Nabreekie; Nabrock; Nabstock; Nabswick; Nabthorpe; Nighthawk; Sea Eagle; Shrike; Simbang; Wagtail.


Other Notes:   
SP = Sealed Pattern, the 'official' signed, dated, sealed drawing, this term in use since 1919. 
NHB = Naval Historical Branch of the MOD, the head of which is a member of the Ships Names and Badges Committee.
BU = Broken Up

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