U.S. Naval Academy Class Rings

Graduates Remembered

Class Rings

The tradition of the Naval Academy class ring began in 1869, 24 years after the school’s founding. The Naval Academy class ring symbolizes the successful and honorable completion of coursework and the receipt of a Naval Academy diploma. To the graduate, the class ring becomes a symbol of honor, loyalty, and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of Naval service and high standards demanded of its Officers. Midshipmen of each class may, during their Second Class year, purchase a class ring. This ring is designed and contracted by the Class Ring and Crest Committee, then ultimately voted on by the entire class. It is customary for the family of the first deceased member of a class to donate their ring to the Naval Academy Museum.

Naval Academy Seal

The seal consists of a hand grasping a trident, a shield bearing an ancient galley ship coming into action, an open book (representing education), and a banner with the motto "Ex scientia tridens," meaning "from knowledge, seapower." 1867 Naval Academy graduate Park Benjamin designed the seal that the Navy officially adopted on January 25, 1899. The design of the seal is raised in gold, including the scroll work. The lettering, the water under the galley and the field are in blue. First Class midshipmen traditionally wear their Naval Academy rings on the third finger of the left hand with the Naval Academy seal facing outward. Upon graduation, they reverse the ring so that the seal faces inward, closest to the graduates' hearts. The seal is omnipresent, even emblazoned on the milk cartons in King Hall.

Ex scientia tridens: from knowledge seapower
Class Crest

Today class crests are synomous with rings, but that was not always the case. In 1866, Superintendent Admiral David Dixon Porter mandated team sports competition between the four classes. Naturally this increased the progression of class identity through class colors, pennants, and emblems.2008 Crest Crests were first seen on invitations for the Farewell Ball; an event put on by Secondclassmen for the departing graduates as part of the ceremonies prior to commissioning. It was not until 1895 that a class ring design included the official crest.

The Class Ring and Crest Committee is a group of midshipmen who volunteer to help design the class's crest. Throughout second class year the committee asks for suggestions from the class on a motto and concepts hoping to be represented. First the class votes on a motto, which will be written in Latin on the crest. Then, with motto in hand, they consolidate the crest concepts into a variety of designs that eventually are voted on as well.

Ring Dance

Since the inception of class rings, second classmen are only allowed to wear their rings after a ceremonial baptism. Prior to the Ring Dance, rings could only be worn after completing final exams. As second classmen celebrated, they were thrown into Dewey Basin by outgoing Firsties, thereby drenching the rings and their owners. In 1925, the Naval Academy held its first Ring Dance in the upper deck of Luce Hall. Midshipmen and their dates pass through a large replica ring prior to dipping the ring in a binnacle (on exhibit at the museum) filled with water from the Seven Seas. Traditionally the water is acquired from all over the world by Naval Academy alumni in the fleet.

Ring Dance Binnacle Hopcard
Ceremonial dipping of class ring in binnacle with 1912 hopcard. USNA Museum Collection