Ship’s Crest - USS Nassau LHA4
Who remembers the big contest to design a ship's logo/plaque and a bumper sticker? Hundreds of logo entries were submitted by crew members and dependents. As PXO (and in Norfolk with the Balance Crew) I collected the drawings, packaged them up and sent them down to Captain Kearns who was with the Advance Crew down in Pascagoula. Many, many rejects. We just couldn't come up with a design that the CO was willing to adopt as a ship's logo. The pressure was on. It was time for final Builder's Sea Trials and commissioning was just around the corner.
I flew to Pascagoula with a number of other officers and crew to ride the ship for the Builder's Trials and were assigned staterooms by Litton Industries who still owned the ship. My roommate was Capt. Rich Cavallaro, USMC, Combat Cargo Officer. First day out, I was sitting in the stateroom after evening meal and after another rejection of what was the final batch of logo entries. Sitting at the small desk I looked up at Capt. Cavallaro's Marine uniform and noticed the design on the buttons. The Eagle, Globe and Anchor inspired me and I broke out a sheet of paper and did a careful sketch of the eagle and anchor. I added ocean, waves and sky and put traditional anchor chain and name plate around the edges with our ship's name and number. We needed a bit more, so I sketched in the banner with the five battle stars to represent those awarded to the USS NASSAU CVE-16 from WWII.
We still needed a motto and there was room on the banner to add one. Our Chief Engineer, Commander Don Livingston, came around and suggested "First From the Sea" since we would have air as well as surface assault capability. I translated the motto into Latin "Prima Ab Mare" to give it a bit of class.
I showed the sketch to Captain Kearns at breakfast the following morning (without telling him the source of this newest submission) and he liked it so much it was approved on the spot. We turned it over to the graphics staff at Litton Shipbuilding who made it happen.
The rest of the story: The winning Bumper Sticker, which proved to be very popular for years and was even used on tee shirts, was designed by Mrs. Robin Sams, a talented artist and wife of our Ship's Intelligence Officer, LCDR John Sams. You will recall this was the design with just the words "USS NASSAU" where the two 'S's in Nassau were alligators assaulting a beach.
Robert J. Ianucci