In Navy language, any kind of running record is called a “log.” Many such logs are kept on board Navy ships. Most of these are not kept permanently. Deck logs from commissioned ships are the only logs sent to the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) to be kept as permanent records. Eventually, deck logs are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). To learn about the content and format of deck logs, as well as which ships submit them, browse the deck log resources in our Archives section.
Access to deck logs at NHHC and NARA differs, as does the research process for individual requestors and officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
- The Archives Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command currently has custody of deck logs from commissioned U.S. Navy ships for the following years: Unclassified deck logs from 1984 to the present; classified deck logs from 1979 to the present.
- NHHC does not maintain deck logs for the following types of vessels: MSTS/MSC ships, service craft, merchant ships, Coast Guard ships, Army transports, or commercial vessels. Please see our page on deck log resources (https://www.history.navy.mil/research/archives/Collections/deck-logs/what-is-a-deck-log.html) for more information.
- Unclassified deck logs from 1941 to 1983, and classified deck logs from 1941 to 1978, are located at the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Md.
- Deck logs from 1940 and earlier are located at the Old Military and Civil Records Branch, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.
- Requests for deck logs held by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) should be directed to the appropriate NARA office.
- For deck logs held by NHHC, the Archives Branch can provide limited reference assistance for official government researchers and VA officials. Researchers may request copies of deck logs using the following procedures, which differ for individual requestors and VA officials.
Requests for Deck Log Copies from Individuals
Requests for deck logs by members of the general public must be submitted under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). When submitting a FOIA request for deck logs, we ask that you be as specific as possible; please include the name of the ship and the specific date for the deck logs that you are requesting. Please note you may be charged a fee based on the number of pages duplicated and the time it takes to search the records. Deck logs can run upwards of 400 pages per month, and it can take as much as five hours to review and determine if a single month of deck logs is releasable to the public. If you are unsure of the specific date(s), we recommend requesting the ship’s Command Operations Report. Command Operation Reports can often assist in narrowing down the date that an incident occurred.
Requests for Deck Log Copies from VA Officials
Deck log requests from the VA and other federal agencies may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the voluminous nature of deck logs and the high volume of requests we receive, we can only provide two months’ worth of deck logs per request from the VA.