The design of the coat-of-arms of the aircraft carrier USS America has its origin in heraldry. The theme is based on the Revolutionary War and honors the intended captain of the first USS America and the father of the United States Navy, John Paul Jones.
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The upper portion of the coat-of-arms consists of a crest with an American flag of the Revolutionary War, flying above the British sail in front of a golden oak wreath, symbolizing the most glorious event of John Paul Jones' naval career, the battle of Bon Homme Richard and HMS Serapis. The Bon Homme Richard defeated Serapis in a desperate fight and, as his own ship was mortally damaged, Jones raised the American flag over Serapis and sailed her into the Dutch harbor of Texal.
Below this is a shield supported by two stags, adapted from the stags which appear on the coat-of-arms of John Paul Jones. These sea stags wear medallions around their necks representing the many honors and decorations accorded to John Paul Jones by France and the United States.
The Shield, supported by the stags, bears two arrowheads, indicative of the force or power in heraldic design. These represent the welding of the sea and air forces into the aircraft carrier weapons system. The lower third of the shield features a coiled rattlesnake, which was a popular symbol of many Revolutionary War naval flags. The shield of white alludes to the ships sent to America by France.
At the base of the coat-of-arms is America's motto: "Don't Tread on Me". These words were common on battle standards during the Revolutionary War as the thirteen colonies fought for their freedom and are today characteristic of the traditions and spirit of this great nation and its proud naval service.
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