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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND

Sources For Individual Ship Study

Naval History and Heritage Command, 805 Kidder Breese SE, Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060

1. Archives Branch

Maintains historical source files including periodic histories submitted by individual ships and other historical data. Command history submissions for Navy ships date from 1960s. Overall histories of every US Navy ship from the American Revolution to date of publication of the respective volume are published in the Naval History and Heritage Command's Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (8 volumes, 1958-1981) which is also available on this website. A new Volume I Part A, containing ships with "A" names, was published in 1991). Histories of ships beginning with the letter B are posted on the website as they are written. This series is held by many libraries, particularly US Government Depository libraries.

Holds the deck logs for commissioned Navy ships that are thirty or less years old. The logs through 1978 and after February 1993 are stored at the Washington National Records Center. Arrangements to view them must be made in advance by contacting the Deck Log Section. The Deck Log Section holds the deck logs from 1979 through February 1993 on microfiche. Please call ahead to check on the availability of the deck logs.

Has custody of the Korean war diary and action report coverage for individual ships, as well as some ship reporting for the Vietnam Conflict. World War II submarine war patrol reports and the action report/war diary coverage of some World War II ships are held on microfilm. Holds some World War II interviews relating to shipboard experiences, especially for 1941-1944 periods, as well as personal paper collections.

Maintains source files on aircraft carriers, aircraft tenders, and other aviation-type vessels including periodic histories submitted by these ships and other historical data relating to naval aviation. They also have microfilm copies of aircraft accident reports from 1920-1953. They also have the unpublished histories of aviation type ships and aviation squadrons serving on ships for the 1942-1952 period, as well as the command histories from 1957 to the present.

2. Photographic Section, Curator Branch - telephone (202) 433-2765

Maintains a well indexed reference collection of naval photography, including views of individual ships.

3. Navy Department Library - telephone (202) 433-4132

The Library maintains an extensive collection of cruise books for individual ships. Duplicate post-World War II cruise books can be used at the Library or borrowed through interlibrary loan channels for in-library use only. Due to possible copyright violations, often fragile book conditions and a small staff, the Navy Department Library does not provide photocopies of entire cruise books. See New York Public Library entry as an alternate source for cruise books.



Archives I, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC

Related Resource: Navy Record Groups at the National Archives

Old Military and Civil Branch, National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20408 telephone (202) 357-5444.

Holds deck logs of individual ships through 1940. Officer personnel are often listed on the first page of each month's log for the 1880-1941 time period. A collection of monthly muster rolls listing enlisted personnel aboard individual ships from the 1880-1938 is bound in books. The Bureau of Ships records through 1940 and the Navy's Judge Advocate General investigative records, for the pre-World War II period, are also maintained in the Branch.

Archives II, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001.

1. Modern Military Records (NWDT2)- telephone (301) 837-3510

Holds deck logs of individual commissioned ships from 1941 to the year that is over thirty years from present date. Deck logs are transferred in January as they become thirty years old. Officer personnel are often listed on the first page of each month's log. A collection of monthly muster rolls listing enlisted personnel aboard individual ships from 1939 through 1975 is available on microfilm. Starting with 1958, the officer rosters are included with the muster rolls on the microfilms. The Bureau of Naval Personnel Casualty files contain the official listing of casualties for World War II, as well as casualty reports for US Navy ships and the Naval Armed Guard serving on merchant ships. The Bureau of Naval Personnel files also include the armed guard reports for each voyage. This office holds the Navy's collection of World War II action reports, war diaries, and operation plans, as well as the Tenth Fleet files which contain merchant ship movement report cards, the loss and damage reports for merchant ships, folders on individual convoys, and the Allied Antisubmarine Warfare Assessment Committee evaluations. This Agency also holds the courts-martial prior to 1946 and the Bureau of Ships records from 1941 through 1945.

2. Still Pictures Branch, NNSP, telephone (301) 837-0561.

Maintains the largest collection of official Department of the Navy still photography covering the 1775-1981 period.

3. Special Media Archives Services Division, NWCS, telephone (301) 837-3200.

Holds a collection of aerial photography taken during some of the Defense Intelligence Agency's mapping and topographical surveys covering the pre-World War II-1960 period. Aerial photographs of US Navy ships are included. However, the ship photography is not indexed. In addition, it includes the Bureau of Ships collection of general plans and drawings for most ships stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. The old name for this Division was the Cartographic Branch.


Office of the Judge Advocate General:

U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Review Activity, Attn: Congressional and Special Interest Section (Code 40), Office of the Judge Advocate General, 716 Sicard Street SE, Suite 1000, Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5047. telephone (202) 433-5895/5896.

Records and proceedings of court martials 1946 to the present. The court martial records for World War II are at the Modern Military Branch, National Archives II at College Park.

Claims, Investigations, & Tort Litigations (Code 354.1), Office of the Judge Advocate General, 9620 Maryland Avenue, Building A-50, 2nd Floor, Norfolk, VA 23511. telephone (757) 444-3588.

Records of boards of investigation, courts of inquiry, and other investigative records are held from the 1930's to the present. Similar investigative records for the pre-World War II period are at the Civil and Old Military Branch, National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408.


New York Public Library, 5th Avenue & 42nd Street, New York NY 10018.

Maintains a large collection of cruise books for US Navy ships.