Hidden Treasures from within Navy Deck Logs

In anticipation of our upcoming ‘What Are You Working On?’ blog series, Rachel Sutcliffe, an Archives Technician in the Holdings Maintenance Division at NARA, shares her experiences and insights on some very interesting records.


Sutcliffe_2 One of the best things about working with the National Archives’ records as an employee is that you get to discover something unexpected in records you would not normally request as a researcher. What may on the surface look like a run of the mill re-housing project ends up revealing a treasure-trove of poems and verse that are sometimes funny and other times profound.  This is exactly what I found working with the Navy deck logs from the Vietnam War and World War II.  But first, you may ask what are these logs? Deck logs contain the Navy’s daily chronology of certain events on, to, and around the ship for administrative and legal purposes. In them, you will find everything from ship movements and location to accidents, honors, and arrests occurring during a particular month.  You can find the vast majority of them in Record Group 24 here at the Archives.

It is hidden in these daily reports that we discovered poems conveying the average sailor’s patriotism, pride, and feelings of intermittent boredom and anticipation. While working on a holdings preservation project for the deck logs for ships in commission during the Vietnam War, my co-workers and I started to notice something different in some of the daily log entries. At first, we thought they were isolated pranks written by sailors somehow related to each other attempting to amuse themselves in the face of a very boring, monotonous job.  Yet when I tried to see if these officers were somehow related, whether by author, ship, or captain, I came up empty handed. I did, however, see a trend. I noticed that when these poems did pop up, they were on the first of January. After a little research and discussion with a colleague, I found out that the Navy had a tradition of writing the first deck log of the New Year in verse. These poems, little diamonds in the rough, have been part of Navy tradition for at least 73 years and they reveal a side of the average sailor’s experience on ships taking part in big moments in American history. While some ad hoc poets like PN 1 Garcia of the USS Rigel pay homage to our country’s greatest poets like Edgar Allen Poe in 1972, others like AR Grainger ENS of the USS Severn, also from1972, tap into classic verse such as “T’was the night Before Christmas” for rhythmic inspiration. Many others still try their hand with creating their own rhyme and meter as they fold in the necessary information of the ship’s location, movements and status in their poetic and often deeper telling gem. These short, lyrical, verses are not only entertaining surprises, but testaments to being able to encounter an historical glimpse of one sailor’s imagination and emotion in the most unlikely of places.

Sutcliffe_1

Series from Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798 - 2007, ARC ID 594258


Update:

Thanks for all of the inquiries about the Navy deck logs!

If you are looking to do some research yourself in these interesting records, please contact the Archives II Reference Section for logs that are more than 30 years old at:
Archives II Reference Section
Textual Archives Services Division
8601 Adelphi Rd.
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Phone: 301-837-3510
Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov

The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978” (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number A1 118).  In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.

Navy deck logs from 1980 and later are still in the custody of the Navy.  The records are held by the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) at the Washington Navy Yard. Requests can be sent to:
Naval Historical Center
Ships History Branch
805 Kidder Breese SE
Washington Navy Yard
Washington, DC 20374-3643.

We would recommend checking NHHC’s web page for more information before sending your request, particularly the two policy and procedures pages under the “More Information” section at the bottom of the home page. Veterans may submit a request for the deck log through the Veterans Administration. Alternatively requests may be submitted directly to NHHC. A request submitted directly to NHHC would be considered a general public FOIA request.

Happy researching!

This entry was posted in Miscellaneous, NARA Staff Favorites, Research, Veterans / Military, What Are You Working On Wednesdays and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

125 Responses to Hidden Treasures from within Navy Deck Logs

  1. terry manning says:

    I got my copy of the shiplog i requested, and i just wanted to thank everyone involved in helping me out. It showed exactly what happened that day, and again thank all of you.

    Like

  2. Penny Batson says:

    I am needing to obtain deck logs for the USS Ranger CV-61 for the years 1968-1969 pertaining to Vietnam for my father’s claim and time is of the essence.

    Like

  3. Penny Batson says:

    Correction on the ship’s name..USS Ranger CVA -61. Time period still 1968-1969. Thanks.

    Like

  4. Hi Penny,

    You can request Navy deck logs from the Archives II Reference Section:
    Archives II Reference Section
    Textual Archives Services Division
    8601 Adelphi Rd.
    College Park, MD 20740-6001
    Phone: 301-837-3510
    Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov

    The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number 118). In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.

    Best of luck with your research!
    Meredith

    Like

  5. Steve Shepherd says:

    I’m looking for deck logs for the William H. Standley DLG 32 from Jan. 1, 1969 thru March 30, 1970. Can you help or send me in the right direction..

    Like

    • Hi Steve,

      You can request Navy deck logs from the Archives II Reference Section:
      Archives II Reference Section
      Textual Archives Services Division
      8601 Adelphi Rd.
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Phone: 301-837-3510
      Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov

      The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number 118). In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.

      Best of luck with your research!
      Meredith

      Like

  6. Ed Armijo says:

    How do I find the Captians logs . I have the Deck Logs but there is not much in them..
    USS Grapple ARS 7
    June 1970 to December 28 ,1973

    Like

  7. Dennis Clevenger says:

    As a radarman aboard a DE in 1972 I worked in CIC. Are CIC logs archived anywhere? Are they accessible like the deck logs?

    Like

    • Mary (admin) says:

      Hi Dennis,

      I sent your questions about CIC logs to a Navy specialist here at NARA, and he responded with some more information:

      According to the Navy Records Management Manual, the only logs that are retained as permanent records are the deck logs of commissioned US naval vessels. All other logs (medical, quartermaster, bell, flight, etc) are not retained and are disposed of as the manual dictates. With the CIC, if the DE was involved in a particular action or event, data from the log may have been used in the operational report or action report filed after the engagement. Since the operational report is the final (permanent record) report, the log is no longer needed.

      If you are interested in researching the operational reports, the best place to find the information you are looking for would be with the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Operational Archives at http://www.history.navy.mil.

      Good luck with your research!

      Mary

      Like

  8. Richard (Rick) Wooley says:

    Hi,
    Please help me to obtain a copy of the deck logs of the USS Fred T. Berry (DD858) for the year 1966 (Vietnam tour of duty included)……….Thank You……..Richard

    Like

    • Hi Richard,

      You can obtain Navy deck logs by submitting a request to the Archives II Reference Section:
      Archives II Reference Section
      Textual Archives Services Division
      8601 Adelphi Rd.
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Phone: 301-837-3510
      Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov

      The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number 118). In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.

      Best of luck with your research!
      Meredith

      Like

  9. William says:

    Pls. furnish the logs of the USS LST 109 from 12/25/1944 to 01/30/1946.

    Like

    • Hi William,

      You can obtain Navy deck logs by submitting a request to the Archives II Reference Section:
      Archives II Reference Section
      Textual Archives Services Division
      8601 Adelphi Rd.
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Phone: 301-837-3510
      Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov

      The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number A1 118). In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.

      Best of luck with your research!
      Meredith

      Like

  10. robert baker says:

    I am trying to find a place that has listings of command crews such as ships and shore commands I was stationed at between 1959 and 1979. I would appreciate any help. Thank you

    Like

  11. Penny Batson says:

    Meredith,
    Thanks for your help before. I’ve gotten the deck logs that were needed; but it did not include the crew list/crew roster. I am needing the crew list for the USS Ranger CVA-61 for 1968-1969, It is imperative that I have this as well for my father’s claim with the VA. As I have to prove he was on the ship. Thanks so much for your help.

    Like

  12. James J Dowling says:

    If I were to go to the National Archives in Maryland, what would the procedure be to be able to read the deck logs of the USS Willis A Lee for 8/1966, and 9/1966?

    Like

  13. Adrianne Criminger says:

    My question is similar to the one above from James. Because the information I am researching from my father’s discharge, I only know a year, not a month. If I want to read a deck log for the entire year of 1944, would it be possible if I went to the National Archives in Maryland?

    Like

    • John says:

      Hi Adrianne,

      Yes, the National Archives at College Park, Maryland has the Navy deck logs from 1942 and later, so you should be able to go there and pull the logs for a particular vessel for 1944.

      John

      Like

  14. Jorge Holzheimer says:

    Good afternoon,
    I’m trying to find photos of the electrical department in the USS Ranger CVA-61 for the years 1964 – 1966
    Thank you

    Like

  15. Daniel Morin says:

    I am trying to find proof that the USS Providence was in Da Nang harbor between 1966 and 1968.

    Like

    • Hi Daniel,

      You can obtain Navy deck logs by submitting a request to the Archives II Reference Section:
      Archives II Reference Section
      Textual Archives Services Division
      8601 Adelphi Rd.
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Phone: 301-837-3510
      Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov

      The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number A1 118). In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.
      Good luck with your research,
      Meredith

      Like

  16. AE1 George E kessinger says:

    I was on board the USSTiconderoga CVS-14 on a short cruise in late october 1970. The name of the cruise was HUKASWEX 4-70. Can you give me the exact dated of this deployment?

    Like

    • Hi George,
      The best way to find out is to submit a reference request to our Archives II Reference Staff. If you provide the name of the ship and a span of dates, they will be able to you if they can discern the exact date of deployment. Here is their contact information:
      Archives II Reference Section
      Textual Archives Services Division
      8601 Adelphi Rd.
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Phone: 301-837-3510
      Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov
      The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number A1 118). In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.
      Good luck with your research,
      Meredith

      Like

  17. iluminado pacheco says:

    how can i obtain copies of muster rolls of uss oklahoma city clg5 and/or commander seventhflt from june thru july1970. ok city deck logs had missing information that i left the ship were in i sat foot in vietnam.

    Like

  18. Steve says:

    I was in Vietnam on the USS Rogers DD 876 1971 The month of july .We docked at Danag and I was on a work detail to load cargo on the ship. will the deck log show that?

    Like

    • Hi Steve,

      The best way to find out what the Deck Logs contain is to contact our Archives II Reference Staff. They will be able to tell you the particular information the logs contain. Please submit a reference request to the Archives II Reference Section:
      Archives II Reference Section
      Textual Archives Services Division
      8601 Adelphi Rd.
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Phone: 301-837-3510
      Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov
      The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number A1 118). In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.
      Good luck with your research,
      Meredith

      Like

  19. Stephanie Szitanyi says:

    Hello everyone – I am trying to do research on the USS Midway which became a military museum in 2004. I’m trying to find out whether or not women served on the aircraft carrier, and if so, in what capacity. My preliminary online research thus far has produced conflicting accounts. Any ideas on where I could go – archives, logbooks, etc – to find such information specifically on the USS Midway? Thanks very much in advance.

    Like

  20. Jonathan Bradbury says:

    Would like to research Deck Logs for USS MOCTOBI (ATF-105) 1971-1972 for VA Claim re: Agent Orange. I will be in the DC area on Nov 28th 2012.

    Like

  21. Adrianne Criminger says:

    I am a member of Fold3 and would like to know if the deck logs referred to in this blog are the same records Fold3 calls “War Diaries.” Thanks!

    Like

    • Kristen (admin) says:

      Hi Adrianne,
      Navy deck logs and war diaries are two distinct types of records, but they can contain similar types of information. Deck logs usually chronicle routine activities aboard ship, such as personnel issues, accidents, combat, location, etc., and provide a third party record that can be used to verify or confirm events. These records range from 1941 to 1978 and are filed in Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

      War diaries, on the other hand, were kept to describe operations and not personnel, so it is rare to find names listed in them. They describe the activity of a naval unit or command (not just ships) for a given period of time. You might find more contextual information about a ship’s activities in relation to specific operations, references to operational plans, and orders with goals and achievements. The National Archives files these records in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations. The dates for War Diaries range from December 10, 1941 to September 2, 1945 (with some going as far as December 1945). There are also a limited number of diaries for the Korean War (June 1950 to July 1953), though these are still restricted pending a review.

      I hope that helps!
      Kristen

      Like

  22. lewis morris says:

    very important to get info of USS Aeolus ARC-3 ships log 1971-1972 westpac cruise.

    Like

  23. Kristen (admin) says:

    Hi all,
    The best way to find Navy deck logs for specific ships is to contact the Archives II Reference Section:
    Archives II Reference Section
    Textual Archives Services Division
    8601 Adelphi Rd.
    College Park, MD 20740-6001
    Phone: 301-837-3510
    Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov

    The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number A1 118). In your request, please be sure to provide very specific information about the ship name as well as the months and years of the logs you would like to request.
    The more details you’re able to provide, the better the archivists will be able to help you. Good luck with your research!

    Kristen

    Like

  24. Larry Hodges says:

    West PAC crew 1961 a and o shop. Larry Hodges. Uss ranger.

    Like

  25. keneth d rost says:

    i was on uss guadalcanal LPH7 from 1962 tell 1966 i need to show that we were in viet nam i need deck log thank you keneth rost

    Like

    • Hi Keneth,

      You can obtain Navy deck logs by submitting a request to the Archives II Reference Section:

      Archives II Reference Section
      Textual Archives Services Division
      8601 Adelphi Rd.
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Phone: 301-837-3510
      Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov

      The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number A1 118). In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.
      Good luck with your research,
      Meredith

      Like

  26. John Anderson says:

    I’m looking for the Deck Logs for the USS Nashville PG-7 from July 21, 1899 to July 25, 1900. Can you point me in the right direction please?

    Thank you,
    John Anderson

    Like

    • Hi John,

      Navy Deck logs from 1940 and prior are located at the National Archives in Washington, DC. You can therefore request deck logs for the USS Nashville from the Archives I Reference Section: Archives1reference@nara.gov

      In your request, please be sure to include the name of the ship and the dates (months and years) you would like to request.

      Best of luck with your research!
      Meredith

      Like

  27. Nora McMahon says:

    Are deck logs for the USS Arlington, AGMR2 available for viewing on line?

    Like

    • Kristen (admin) says:

      Hi Nora,
      Deck logs for the USS Arlington are not currently available online, however, NARA recently announced a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to digitize historic deck logs, so they should be in the future. You can read more about the partnership on our website.

      In the meantime, Navy Deck logs post-1940 are located at the National Archives in College Park, MD. You can request files for the USS Arlington from the Archives II Reference Section by emailing them at Archives2reference@nara.gov. In your request, please be sure to include the name of the ship and the dates (months and years) you would like to request.

      Good luck in your research,
      Kristen

      Like

  28. Mark Hendricks says:

    Deck Log USS Midway 1975 crossed the Equator I think Nov 1 1975, Looking for Coordinates to try to replace lost Shellback Certificate.

    Like

  29. alvin e thomas says:

    I was on the USS Fred T Berry DD 858 in 1966 during Vietnam tour. I need copies of deck logs, showing we were in Brown waters. In 1996 I suffered 4-5 Ischemic Strokes and in 2008 1 Ischemic Heart Attack.

    Like

    • Hi Alvin,

      You can obtain Navy deck logs by submitting a request to the Archives II Reference Section:

      Archives II Reference Section
      Textual Archives Services Division
      8601 Adelphi Rd.
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Phone: 301-837-3510
      Email: Archives2reference@nara.gov

      The series is “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978″ (ARC Identifier 594258 / HMS Entry Number A1 118). In your request, please include the ship name as well as the month and the year of the particular log you would like to request.

      Best of luck with your research,
      Meredith

      Like

  30. Jack Smith says:

    On p. 59 of the winter 2012 issue of Prologue, it says under caption: “ship logs from the pre Civil War period through WWII are now available online.” Can you please provide the link. Thanks.

    Like

    • Hi Jack,

      Online access to historic Navy, Coast Guard and Revenue Cutter ship logs between the pre-Civil War period through World War II are available through a digitization and transcription project by the National Archives and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Digital images of the logbooks are available at http://www.oldweather.org.

      Citizen archivists and citizen scientists are encouraged to create an account and begin transcribing these records. These logbooks provide a glimpse of a wealth of historic weather data and climate patterns, as well as invaluable information on U.S. maritime history, military operations, scientific exploration, diplomacy, advances in technology, and near-hourly accounts of dramatic adventures on the high seas, including rescues and shipwrecks. More information about the project is available in our press release: http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2013/nr13-11.html

      Best of luck with your research,
      Meredith

      Like

  31. John Cox says:

    Hello: I sent an e-mail to Archives II requesting logs for ships on the Mississippi River 1863 (Vicksburg area) but was told to send the specific request to Archives I.
    I did so over a week ago but have had no reply as yet.
    What is normal wait time.

    Like

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