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What a Navy Command should do if it is going to be Disestablished (Shore Commands),
Deactivated (Aviation Squadrons) or Decommissioned (Ships)

The disestablishment, deactivation, and decommissioning of commands poses many concerns. One is that historical records of the unit might be lost through neglect or simply not knowing what to do with historically significant materials that have been accumulated by the command over the years. It is imperative that the official records and historical materials of Navy commands be preserved for study and research by future Navy personnel, researchers, veterans, and the general public.

What is a record? What is significant? What is not historical? What should we do with records and other materials that are significant? These are a few questions that are routinely asked of the Naval History & Heritage Command. Amid the personnel and logistics requirements for commands being disestablished, the disposition of records can easily be overlooked.

Before destroying or disposing of any records, commands should refer to SECNAV Manual 5210.1, Department of the Navy, Navy Records Management Program. This instruction provides guidance on whether records may be destroyed or must be sent to a repository such as the Naval History & Heritage Command, the National Archives, or a federal records center. It is available on the Navy Directives web site at The Naval History & Heritage Command, located in the Washington Navy Yard, is the primary collector of Navy operational records and artifacts. Questions about the application or interpretation of the instruction should be referred to the Naval History & Heritage Command.

Commands should also ensure that a final Command Operations Report covering the period from the start of the year to the date of disestablishment, deactivation, or decommissioning, is submitted in accordance with OPNAVINST 5750.12. The latest version of this instruction is available at

Several elements of the Naval History & Heritage Command are responsible for collecting and maintaining historical materials. The Archives Branch maintains historical records and deck logs for U.S. Navy ship, aviation, and shore commands. The Curator Branch collects and preserves three-dimensional objects. These branches can help you determine what is needed for retention.

Files (both electronic and paper), photographs, books (cruise books, etc.), logs (including those kept in the administrative spaces ashore during port visits), videos, and other materials make up the historical record of your command. This includes the many reports, studies, and other records that the command may have submitted via the chain-of-command in response to taskings, instructions, or special directives. The submission of these documents to your senior command does not guarantee their preservation. If in doubt, the materials should be saved for assessment by the Naval History & Heritage Command.

What Records (both paper and electronic) should be Retained by Aviation Commands, Ships, Shore Commands and other Commands and Units in the Navy

Artwork and Artifacts

The Naval History & Heritage Command's Curator Branch manages the Navy's principal repository of artwork and artifacts. The directives guiding accountability, care and disposition are OPNAVINST 4770.5F (Ship and craft disposal manual) and OPNAVINST 5750.13 (Historical Properties of the Navy). These instructions may be found on the Navy Directives Web Site at Unless directed to one of the Navy's official museums, there are no other commands or institutions authorized to care for historical properties.

What Artifacts from ships should be Retained for the Curator Branch

Artifacts from Shore Commands

Since shore commands are more varied in mission, it is recommended that a command slated for closure contact the Curator Branch directly for guidance.

Naval History & Heritage Command Points of Contact

Naval History & Heritage Command
Archives Branch
805 Kidder Breese Street, SE
Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C. 20374-5060
Telephone: (202) 433-3224 (DSN 288)
Official e-mail address:
(Note: This e-mail address is only for official government business. The Archives Branch will not respond to public requests via this e-mail.

Naval History & Heritage Command
Curator Branch
805 Kidder Breese Street, SE
Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C. 20374-5060
Official Phone Calls: (202) 433-7874 (DSN 288)
(Note: The phone number is only for official government business, the Curator Branch will not respond to public requests via this phone number. Public requests for information must be mailed to the above address.)

Shipping Address (for large items which must be crated):
Receiving Officer
Naval District Washington Supply
Naval Air Facility Washington
1 San Diego Loop BLDG-3086
Andrews AFB, MD 20762-5060
Curator For the Navy
Washington Navy Yard BLDG-46

National Archives Record Centers

Records that are not identified by the command for transfer to the Naval History & Heritage Command, but are identified for permanent or temporary retention by SECNAV Manual 5210.1, should be forwarded in accordance with National Archives requirements, to the command's closest Federal Record Center. A listing of the Federal Record Centers around the country may be found at The mailing address and other information regarding these facilities may also be found on this web site.