The Shield features the IOWA state seal in the background bordered by teak decking symbolizing the teak deck boards aboard USS IOWA (BB-61), with the text "USS IOWA'' above and "SSN 797" below, which is encircled by gold cord with 47 silver stars. These silver stars represent the 47 sailors who tragically lost their lives during the Number Two 16-inch gun turret explosion on 19 April, 1989. Upon which the profile of the state of IOWA adorned with the colors of the IOWA state flag.
A wreath with a clover at its center is located where the city of Waterloo resides in the state. This pays homage to the 5 Sullivans Brothers who were killed in WWII when their ship, USS JUNEAU (CL 52), was sunk during the battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November, 1942. The wreath represents the symbol of ultimate sacrifice, the clover leaf pays tribute to the Sullivans brothers' Irish heritage.
Above the state rides the outline silhouette of USS IOWA battleship (BB-61) with "GREY GHOST" at the waterline on the hull and 11 stars in the border directly above the battleship. These stars represent the 9 battle stars earned during WWII and the 2 earned for Korean War service.
The Virginia Class Submarine USS IOWA (SSN 797) protrudes from the center wrapped by the American flag adorned by the liberty cap. The liberty cap is taken from the Iowa state seal and is an ancient Greek symbol of freedom.
The submarine is bordered by the blue banner of the IOWA state flag "OUR LIBERTIES WE PRIZE" in the upper left and "OUR RIGHTS WE WILL MAINTAIN" in the lower right. Soaring above the hull of the submarine is a Hawk with 797 grasped in its talons. This hawk is the symbol that is the central figure from the seal of USS IOWA (BB-61) where is carried the hull number for the Grey Ghost "61" in her talons.
In the forefront is a pair of submarine dolphins: One gold one silver with red and green eyes respectively. The gold dolphin represents the officers and the silver the enlisted of the crew of the ship. The red and green eyes symbolize the port and starboard running lights carried aboard seagoing vessels.