In Greek mythology, Callisto or Kallisto (/kəˈlɪstoʊ/; Greek: Καλλιστώ [kallisˈtɔː]) was a nymph of Lycaon and one of the virgin followers of Artemis. After Zeus had tricked her into “entering into his embrace” she became pregnant. This enraged Artemis, who turned her into a bear, who then gave birth to a human son, Arcas. Later, Arcas would, unknowingly, shoot and kill his bear-mother while out hunting, at which point Zeus set her among the stars as the constellation Ursa Major.
There is a rare subspecies of the American black bear found in the Central and North Coast regions of British Columbia called the Kermode Bear. This animal is noted for about one-tenth of its population having white or cream-coloured coats similar to that of polar bears (though they are not related). To the coastal Native Americans, they are the “Spirit Bear” and hold a prominent place in their oral traditions. The Kermode Bear is also the official provincial mammal of British Columbia.
BC, the Yukon and Alaska are known for their great natural beauty. Full of large regions of rugged, untamed wilderness, it is a place many go to seek themselves and their place in the universe. The Aurora Borealis is a natural display of dancing, coloured lights in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions. Science tells us that they are the result of electrons colliding with the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere but the breathless beauty of the flickering, eerie Northern Lights is still a wonder to behold.
And so, the crest of the HMS Callisto combines these things together—the Spirit Bear, the “big dipper” from Ursa Major, and the Aurora Borealis—inside the silhouette of a bear paw with its claws bared.
The crest was designed by hull-plate owner Jenni Merrifield (CO) in consultation with hull-plate owners Cary Conder (XO), Mark Gledhill (Bosun), and William Underhill (Power Mate 3/c).