SHIELD Argent, on a bend Gules cottised Azure a ladder throughout Or, between a life ring and figure eight knot Proper.
From a wreath Argent and Gules crashing waves of the sea between two stone sea walls surmounted by a lantern radiating rays to either side all Proper.
A scroll Azure edged Gules inscribed "IN OMNIA PARATUS" (Ready for Everything) Argent.
The coat of arms as blazoned upon a white disc enclosed by a dark blue border edged on the outside with a gold rope inscribed "USCGC JAMES RANKIN" at top and "WLM 555" at bottom in gold.
SHIELD Red, blue and white are the colors traditionally associated with the US Coast Guard; gold is emblematic of excellence and high achievement. The red and blue stripes suggest Coast Guard cutter markings. The James Rankin's namesake was one of the grand, old-time light keepers. The ladder and life preserver were James Rankin's favorite life saving tools. After throwing a rope attached to a life preserver, he used a ladder to climb down the dangerous San Francisco sea wall to save the lives of many people. He continued "going over the wall" until the end of his long service. He spent a lot of his time practicing the vital skill of knot tying while watching the bay. The life ring represents the mission of Search and Rescue of the cutter that bears his name.
The stone walls and waves represent the rugged San Francisco Harbor entrance; as the tide rushes through the Golden Gate, it suddenly veers sharply toward Fort Point Light and rams violently against the sea wall. James Rankin, as keeper of the light, performed many heroic feats of rescue here. The stylized lantern alludes to the Fort Point Light; its searching beams highlight the Aids to Navigation responsibilities of USCGC James Rankin.