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WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Ships History Branch

General Information

An element of the Navy's Historical Section, established during World War I, collected information on the Navy's ships, wrote histories of ships' wartime service, and responded to requests for information on naval ships.

In 1927, the Historical Section became part of the Office of Naval Records and Library.

After World War II a Ships Histories Section in the Office of Public Information, Navy Department, collected histories written by ships after V-J Day and edited them for distribution. During the war an Office of Naval History had been formed, under the Secretary of the Navy, to collect wartime documents and oversee war history writing.

In 1949, the Office of Naval History was merged with the Office of Naval Records and Library to form the Naval Records and History Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), and the Ships Histories Section became part of this new organization. The Naval Records and History Division became the Naval History Division in 1952, and was established as a field activity called the Naval Historical Center in 1971. What was by now the Ships History Branch thus became part of the Historical Center.

In 1987, the Ships Deck Logs Section was transferred from OPNAV to the Ships History Branch.

The Ships History Branch maintains an archive of records on U.S. Navy ships; conducts research; and writes the multivolume Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships and occasional special studies. It serves the Navy by providing historical information on naval ships and their operations. Like other branches of the Historical Center, we give priority to official requests. The general public is welcome to call, write, or visit our office.

We can respond to specific queries to the extent of our knowledge and resources; we have neither the staff nor the facilities to handle extensive personal research requests or to do large amounts of copying.

30 April 2001