One of the Branch's major collections contains the annual history reports submitted by commissioned Navy ships. In 1952 the Chief of Naval Operations first directed such ships to write an annual history. Earlier histories were often cursory or even lacking. Over the years specific guidance for writing histories has been developed and issued, and their content has generally tended to improve with time. Some command histories are classified.
Deck Log Section
The Ships Deck Logs Section has charge of deck logs for commissioned U.S. Navy ships for thirty years back from the present day. Most logs from 1979 to about 1993 are on microfiche; others are the original paper copy. Most logs are stored in the Washington National Records Center in suburban Suitland, Maryland. While some logs are classified, most of them are unclassified and available for research. For access to these, write to the Naval Historical Center (DL), 805 Kidder Breese SE, Washington DC 20374-5060. The Ships History Branch transfers the deck logs to the National Archives when they are thirty years old.
Deck logs from the earliest times through 1940 are located
in the Old Military and Civil Records, Natonal Archives and
Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington,
DC 20408. Deck logs starting from 1941 through the period thirty
years back from the present day are located in the Modern Military
Branch, National Archives, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park
Other Documentary Records
World War II war diaries, action reports, and submarine war patrol reports have been transferred to the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. The Historical Center's Operational Archives Branch still maintains the war diaries and action reports for the Korean Conflict among other post-WWII records.
Information on Ship Types
Resources for ship study are varied. This office has at least some historical information on almost every ship the Navy has had. Technical information, however, is limited. We can usually suggest publications or archival sources that may help answer technical questions. Documentary sources include the records of the General Board of the Navy and the Bureau of Ships, held by the Civil and Old Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408. World War II records of the Bureau of Ships are in the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. Other records are listed on Sources of Information on Ships Sources. The Navy Department Library has an extensive collection of works on the development of naval ships.
Naval ship photographs may be obtained from the Naval Historical Center's Photographic Section; the Still Pictures Branch, National Archives, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park MD 20740-6001; and the Ships and Aircraft Photo Collection, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis MD 21402. Each of these sources can advise on ordering procedures and copying charges.
Reproduction of Documents
The office can photocopy a limited number of pages. Larger orders are filled with microfilm or microfiche. There are fees for these services. The Historical Center's fee schedule is available.
2 August 2004