Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Submitting Artifacts from In-service and Decommissioning Vessels

White wooden sign with blue lettering and a red cross and arrow directing for medical care

Sign from USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) used during Hurricane Katrina. 

While OPNAVINST 4770.5H, Chapter 11, includes a list of artifacts for ships to submit to the Navy collection when a ship decommissions, NHHC is also interested in collecting artifacts that hold a unique significance to the ship, the crew, the culture, and/or the operations. General criteria for evaluating curator interests are:

  • Association with:

            ▪ combat

            ▪ notable achievements

            ▪ memorable events

            ▪ mission roles and functions

  • Unique or special significance from a technical viewpoint
  • Special relationship with personnel and individuals

            ▪ heroism

            ▪ humane efforts

            ▪ human interest

            ▪ vessel’s sponsor

Below are a few examples of unique objects in the Navy collection:

  • Gay, Lesbian, and Supporting Sailors (GLASS) water bottle distributed by a shipboard LGBTQ organization
  • UDT material from the recovery of Apollo 11 astronauts and command module Columbia
  • crew-made plaque from USS Guadalcanal commemorating war-patrol successes
  • fragment of a life raft with crew signatures from USS Macon
  • Baseball from USS Asheville
  • hand-made sign from USNS Comfort documenting relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina

Curator Branch welcomes commands to recommend artifacts that meet the criteria listed above for inclusion in the NHHC artifact collection. Submit a list of artifacts with photos of each item and all of the information required in a valuable gift report to the NHHC Curator Branch for consideration.

A sample inventory report is available on page 3-28 of NAVSUP P-486 Volume II, Chapter 3. The inventory report must include the following information:

  • A description of the object, including any and all markings and inscriptions and dimensions
  • The context of the object—why it is important
  • Name of the receiving unit (i.e., USS Underway CVN-00)
  • Condition of the object, utilizing one of four condition identifiers: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor

Reports must include JPEG images of each object. Images of each gift should be clear and should encompass the entirety of the object. Include clear images of any special markings or condition factors.

If the situation allows, the NHHC Curator Branch may request that the object be sent to the NHHC Collection Management Facility at the conclusion of the ship’s deployment. If that is deemed infeasible or the requirements of the mission dictate that the object remains on the ship until decommissioning, the NHHC Navy Curator Branch will make a note of the object and request its recovery when the ship decommissions.

To preserve the history behind the artifact when it is submitted, NHHC recommends that the list of artifacts and photos be submitted at the conclusion of a deployment or operation before the participants who have knowledge of the significance of the artifacts have left the ship. This historical background should be included in the list of artifacts for consideration by the NHHC Curator Branch.


Published: Sat May 02 11:27:44 EDT 2020