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Merchant Marine Challenge Coins

A Maritime Tradition


The United States Merchant Marine refers to our country's shipping both for commerce and trade. The Merchant Marine is also responsible for shipping troops, supplies, and equipment during wartime and has been referred to as the “fourth arm of defense” because of its vital importance in military operations during times of conflict.

That being said, the Merchant Marine is not apart of the United States Military. It is apart of the U.S. Maritime Administrations which in turn is under the umbrella of the Department of Transportation. The ships that make up the Merchant Marine are both civilian and federally owned crafts and are run by graduate officers of Merchant Marine Academies. 

Just like military challenge coins, U.S. Merchant Marine challenge coins are dedicated to the values and mottos of the Merchant Marine and those officers that run the fleet. Custom coins have long been used by commanding officers to motivate their team and build camaraderie by showing them a personal gesture of gratitude for their service and giving them a physical symbol of their achievements and future goals.

Merchant Marine Academies

There are seven institutions available for those individuals looking to join the Merchant Marine:

  • The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) 
  • California State University Maritime Academy
  • Great Lakes Maritime Academy
  • Maine Maritime Academy
  • Massachusetts Maritime Academy
  • State University of New York Maritime College
  • Texas A&M Maritime Academy

While the U.S. Merchant Marine is not apart of the U.S. Military, Merchant Mariners graduate as highly-trained licensed officers with training working for the Merchant Marine, working within the United States Armed Forces, and working with the intermodal transportation system. A career in the Merchant Marine offers a wide array of pathways to follow, however, some schools offer an easy starting point for you to grow into. USMMA offers two commissioned officer routes for Merchant Mariners upon graduation: five years of service within the U.S. Maritime Service and eight years as a reserve officer in the armed forces, or five years active duty within the armed forces. 

Each of these schools is guaranteed to mold students into specially trained officers that both serve and protect our shores and trading routes around the country.

Celebrate the completion of your education with a set of U.S. Merchant Marine challenge coins. Each coin is crafted with care and pride, and all of the designs are completely original. Commanding officers within the Merchant Marine as well as the United States Armed Forces often hand out challenge coins to build a sense of unity among their peers and subordinates. For graduation, these coins can incorporate important dates, custom artwork of the university, or even the motto of the Merchant Marine: “Acta Non Verba”. Deeds, not words.

Call now and speak to one of our friendly specialists or get started with a free quote to receive free artwork on your U.S. Merchant Marine challenge coins!


Custom Challenge Coin Examples


History Behind the Challenge Coin

Merchant Marine challenge coins are similar to the military, law enforcement, and corporate challenge coins prevalent throughout the United States. They first became popular in the armed forces during World War 1 and spread throughout different branches of government and industry from there, however, the actual history of team coins may stretch even farther back than that.

According to legend, Roman legionary soldiers were sometimes awarded an extra coin on top of their normal pay as a bonus for things like bravery in combat, particular dedication to the cause, or exceptional service in some way. It was meant to be a monetary reward for superior service and to encourage that behavior in the rest of the legion by setting the example of excellence. The coins were sometimes minted specially for the commanding officers of individual units so they depicted team specific imagery like emblems or slogans. 

This lead to recipients of the bonus coins to keep them as mementos of their success rather than spending them with the rest of their pay. They represented their accomplishment and could be displayed with pride and carried with honor!

These are the same attributes of today’s challenge coins. U.S. Merchant Marine challenge coins are highly personal and team-specific so as to elicit a strong sense of unity, camaraderie, and dedication. At Signature Coins, we take special care in each and every one of our designs to make sure they depict the finest qualities of your team and organization. 

Read some more about the history of challenge coins within the armed forces here, or get started with your order of custom coins today!

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Quality and Dedication To Service


Signature Coins has a long history creating highly personalized custom challenge coins. Our staff of talented artists has experience both recreating symbols and emblems as well as crafting completely new designs on an individual basis. We do not stock any standard designs or layouts so you can be sure everything you order from us will be completely unique.

We have broken down the order process into three easy steps to ensure the system that gets your custom coins into your hands is smooth every time.

First, just fill out one of our order forms to receive a free quote and free artwork on your order. You will have your first proof ready to view within 24 to 48 hours!

Then, let us know what you think! If there is anything you would like us to adjust, add, or change, that is totally fine! We offer free unlimited revisions to ensure you can make your vision come to life!

Finally, approve the order and you can expect your coins within 14 business days. We offer Free UPS Priority Air shipping of every order so as soon as production is finished your coins will be on their way.

If you are looking for custom U.S. Merchant Marine challenge coins, you have come to the right place! We have earned the trust of our customers through our dedication to quality and our 100% satisfaction guarantee. Thank you for choosing Signature Coins, and we look forward to working with you!



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