CVN-73’s New Command Shoulder Patch: George Washington’s Headquarters Flag

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trey Hutcheson

Date: 05.16.2019
Posted: 05.16.2019 13:06
News ID: 322628

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - (May 14, 2019) – George Washington’s Headquarters Flag, also known as the Commander-in-Chief Standard, is described to have a field of a single width of faded blue silk about 27 1/2 by 35 1/2 inches. Thirteen large six-pointed stars with elongated rays that are in a three, two, three, two, three pattern in layout. The stars were designed after an English Heraldic language.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) chose George Washington’s headquarters flag design for its command logo shoulder patch for the Navy Working Uniform Type III.

“Revolutionary Americans adopted various symbols to represent the new republic that they created after the Declaration of Independence,” said Dr. Scott Stephenson, the president and chief executive officer for the Museum of the American Revolution. “Washington's Standard includes a blue field with thirteen white stars representing a new constellation, which Congress adopted in 1777 as a component of the now familiar ‘Star-Spangled Banner.’”

George Washington wore six-pointed stars on his shoulders as a general, which is possibly why he used six-pointed stars on his flag.

“In the early 20th century, descendants of George Washington’s sister, Betty Washington Lewis, donated the flag to the Valley Forge Historical Society,” according to the Museum of the American Revolution website. “The society transferred the collection, including the Standard, to the Museum of the American Revolution in 2003.”

George Washington was known to have worn a light blue sash as a symbol of his authority, which could have been his source of inspiration for the blue field.

According to the Museum of the American Revolution website, a replica of the Commander-in-Chief Standard traveled into space with astronaut John Glenn as part of the 1999 bicentennial commemorations of Washington’s death in 1799. The Discovery crew and the flag traveled 3.6 million miles and orbited the earth 134 times.

The Headquarters Flag is believed to be the earliest surviving thirteen-star flag representing the United States.

“The Commander-in-Chief’s flag was recommended to the triad as a possible unit patch by [Chief Electronics Technician] Joseph Knight from combat systems,” said Capt. Daryle Cardone, from Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, the executive officer aboard George Washington. “He suggested that having a command flag would be a symbol that the crew would be able to rally around.”

Knight is an amateur vexillologist, one who studies the history, symbolism, and usage of flags, and recently watched a TED talk about good flag design and the importance of flags.

“He suggested that we design a command flag, and utilize that design as our command patch,” said Cardone. He then sent me a copy of the Commander-in-Chief’s flag and [the] leadership team loved it. We added the ‘First in War, First in Peace’ quote from [George Washington’s] eulogy, and that was that.”

The command logo shoulder patch will be available for purchase June 1 at the ship store for $5.00.

Join the conversation with GW online at and For more news from USS George Washington, visit www.