Capt. Todd Marzano, commanding officer, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), and crew on Nov. 6 unveiled the seal of the U.S. Navy’s second Ford-class aircraft carrier, under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding-Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Elements of the seal honor President John F. Kennedy, his service to the Navy and his vision for space exploration.
The 35 stars around the outer ring represent Kennedy as our nation’s 35th president. The 35th star is after his middle initial, and the two gold stars between CVN and 79 symbolize that this is the second aircraft carrier bearing his name and legacy.
The Roman numeral “CIX” or 109, is a tribute to Kennedy’s heroic naval service as commander of Patrol Boat 109 in the South Pacific. The moon backdrop represents Kennedy’s instrumental role in the nation’s space program.
“No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space,” Kennedy said in a Sept. 12, 1962, speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas. “For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and space.”
Anchoring these and other elements on the seal is the ship’s motto: Serve with Courage.
“Our motto exemplifies President Kennedy’s life,” Marzano said. “From the first day of his presidency, he challenged every American during his inauguration speech to ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’ He regarded serving one’s nation as an honor and held the utmost respect for those who did so with courage, especially when faced with adversity.”
“John F. Kennedy displayed extraordinary courage, both in combat as a naval officer, and as president of the United States,” Marzano said. “The seal design and ship’s motto are a very powerful and fitting way to honor his legacy.”
The ship’s keel was laid Aug. 22, 2015, and the 588-metric-ton island superstructure was placed May 29, 2019. On Oct. 29, the dry dock was flooded, officially launching the aircraft carrier about three months ahead of schedule. PCU John F. Kennedy will be christened at Newport News Shipbuilding-Huntington Ingalls Industries in Newport News Dec. 7.