Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Gift Acceptance and Reporting


Photo #: NH 48909  USS Pensacola (CL-24)

USS Pensacola (CL-24). Actress Ethyl Merman, star of the stage hit Girl Crazy, presents a young goat (lower right) to the ship's crew, possibly at about the time of Pensacola's commissioning in February 1930. Accepting the gift is the ship's Commanding Officer, Captain Alfred G. Howe, USN. (NH 48909)                          


In accordance with NAVSUP P-486 Volume II, Chapter 3, all units are required to report receipt and acceptance of valuable gifts other than presentation silver to the Curator Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), who will evaluate the gifts for possible inclusion in the headquarters artifact collection. If found to be of historic significance, the gift will be accessioned into the NHHC headquarters artifact collection and placed on loan to the ship. Curator Branch will maintain all gift reports for the service life of the ship and will utilize these reports at the time of decommissioning when artifact selections are being made in accordance with OPNAVINST 4770.5H. All gifts of presentation silver and inquiries regarding the presentation silver program may be directed to:

Naval Supply Systems Command
Presentation Silver Manager
P.O. Box 2050, Code SUP N423
5450 Carlisle Pike
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-0791

Sponsor Gifts

If a ship’s sponsor chooses to present a gift to the new ship, NHHC can assist in identifying appropriate gift ideas. Not all objects or artwork are appropriate for retention and display aboard a warship. Proposed gifts that have high market value, are old or fragile, or have high sentimental value to a namesake’s family could require unacceptably high security or environmental control measures to protect them throughout the life of the ship, if accepted. These considerations are amplified by the inherent risks of naval operations, particularly in combat. Such gifts should either be declined or referred to NHHC for acceptance and potential display ashore (SECNAV 5031.D, Appendix F, paragraph 13).

At the time of a ship’s decommissioning, the NHHC Curator Branch staff can assist the ship with choosing a gift for the sponsor, if approved by SECNAV. Per SECNAV 5031.D, Appendix G, paragraph 8, 10 U.S.C. §8766 “authorizes SECNAV to give the sponsor ‘the name plate or any small article of negligible or sentimental value’ from the sponsored vessel. The sponsor’s original gift to the ship is usually inappropriate for this purpose due to its financial value and to the historical value it has accrued during its association with the ship. The decommissioning commanding officer (DCO) shall coordinate any such gift that is to be presented to the sponsor prior to decommissioning with the SECNAV public affairs officer (PAO) and NHHC to ensure that the gift is acceptable and a record of the gift is maintained. The DCO shall ensure the gift is noted in the ship’s command operations report for the year. NHHC will present any such gifts that occur following decommissioning. This gift may only be made to the sponsor, not to maid(s)/matron(s) of honor, or to family members of the sponsor and must be made without expense to the United States.”

Gifts to Ships

Objects or artwork intended for ultimate display aboard completed ships should comply with suitability and accountability guidelines defined in SECNAV 5031.D, Appendix F, paragraph 13, and quoted in part below.

Objects or artwork intended for retention and display aboard the ship during its lifetime and for permanent retention in the Navy’s collections thereafter impose on the ship’s crew significant responsibilities for accountability and stewardship, both out of respect and gratitude to the donor, and out of consideration for future generations of Sailors and citizens. As the organization with ultimate permanent responsibility for such objects and artwork, NHHC has the final decision of what items will be retained permanently by the Navy. The following guidelines apply:

  • Suitability of proposed donations. Not all donated objects or artwork are appropriate for retention and display aboard a warship. Proposed gifts that have high market value, are old or fragile, or have high sentimental value to a namesake’s family could require unacceptably high security or environmental control measures to protect them throughout the life of the ship, if accepted. These considerations are amplified by the inherent risks of naval operations, particularly in combat. Such gifts should either be declined or referred to NHHC for acceptance and potential display ashore.
  • Accountability. Newly commissioned ships shall include an inventory of donated objects and artwork that have been accepted for display aboard the ship in their first command operations report. Such items will be inventoried on receipt and accounted for in accordance with NAVSUP Publication 486, Vol II, Revision of 8 August 2016, Chapter 3.
  • Appraisal. An appraisal may be requested by the donor or may be required to determine the appropriate gift acceptance authority. A qualified appraiser of the donor’s choice may be found by consulting The American Society of Appraisers. The donor is responsible for all costs associated with the appraisal. Curator Branch staff cannot provide an appraisal for any object but can assist with estimating a fair market value for the purpose of identifying the correct acceptance authority.  

Submitting Initial Gift Reports

Gifts may be presented at any time during the life of the ship. All gifts must be accepted in accordance with SECNAVINST 5031.1D and OPNAV 4001.1G and should be documented in writing by an appropriate Deed of Gift. All gifts presented to ships must be inventoried according to the instructions outlined in NAVSUP P-486, Rev. 8, paragraph 3501.1. Initial reports of gifts received must be submitted to Curator Branch, either electronically or in hard copy, within 60 days of receipt of the gift. Reports must include a completed inventory, JPEG images of each gift received, and a copy of the signed Deed of Gift utilized by the receiving unit to accept the gift. The inventory report must include the following information for each gift received:

A. The object gifted to the unit (i.e., portrait of the namesake, sword used by the namesake, part of a previous ship to bear the name, etc.)

  1. A description of the object gifted to the unit, to include any and all markings, inscriptions, and dimensions.
  2. Name of the donor that made the gift (i.e., City of New York, Mr. John Smith).
  3. Name of the receiving unit (i.e., USS Underway CVN-00)
  4. Condition of the object, utilizing one of four condition identifiers: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor. See below for additional guidance on assigning a condition to the object.
  5. Name of the manufacturer (if known).

B. The initial inventory should also include information regarding the context of the gift, such as who presented it, where and when it was presented, and the history or significance of the object.

C. 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.

Electronic versions of the gift report may be submitted via email to NHHCCurator@navy.mil.

Hard copy gift reports may be sent to:

Naval History and Heritage Command
Curator Branch
805 Kidder Breese Street SE.
Washington Navy Yard, D.C. 20374-5060

Curator Branch will respond to the reporting command with a determination of whether the gift will be included in the headquarters artifact collection. If included in the collection, Curator Branch will assign an accession number and will place the artifact on loan to the ship.

Condition Reporting

It is critical for the initial gift report to accurately document the condition of an object when it is received. It can be used as a baseline for monitoring the condition of the object over time and to benchmark the type and/or rate of deterioration. The condition report can also help differentiate identical objects from one another. Four condition identifiers are utilized by Curator Branch to document an object’s condition, as defined below.

Condition Terms

Description

Excellent

Artifact is in sound physical condition. No damage or deterioration evident. Item is displayable in its current state.

Good

Artifact is in generally sound physical condition. May show signs of some damage and deterioration and require a minor effort to make displayable.

Fair

Artifact shows moderate damage and deterioration. Artifact may require more in-depth conservation/restoration effort.

Poor

Damage to artifact is extreme and clearly visible. Artifact may require major conservation/restoration effort.

Note that condition identification of “Fair” or “Poor” for an object does not necessarily mean it is not valuable. There are artifacts in NHHC collections that relate to specific events such as combat actions and terrorist attacks where the object was damaged. The damage suffered by these objects is a determining factor in historical significance of the object. Examples are pieces of the hull of the USS Arizona and a laptop computer recovered from the Pentagon after the 9/11 attack.

Annual Inventories of Gifts

Each gift must be inventoried annually within the first quarter in addition to relief of the custodian, upon change of command, and upon inactivation of the ship. Curator Branch recommends that commands maintain an inventory log in addition to retaining copies of each inventory completed. This log should be made part of the SUPPO or PAO’s turn over binder. Annual inventories must include the following information for each object:

  1. Inventory or accession number (if provided by Curator Branch)
  2. Title of the object (what the object is)
  3. Description and quantity
  4. Condition (Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor)
  5. Location on board
  6. Whether the object was positively located during the inventory (Yes or No)
  7. Name and signature of the individual conducting the inventory
  8. Name and signature of the individual validating the inventory
  9. Date of inventory

At least one JPEG image of each object included on the annual inventory report must be included. A sample inventory is available on page 3-16 of NAVSUP P-486 Volume II Chapter 3. Annual inventories of valuable gifts must be submitted to NHHC Curator Branch either via email to NHHCCurator@navy.mil or hard copy to:

Naval History and Heritage Command
Curator Branch
805 Kidder Breese Street SE.
Washington Navy Yard, D.C. 20374-5060

Damaged, Missing, or Destroyed Items and Recovery of Missing Items

NAVSUP P-486, Rev. 8, paragraph 3502 provides specific guidance on this topic. In general:

  • Any objects on loan from the Navy or gifts presented to the ship that are damaged, destroyed, or cannot be located must be reported to the NHHC Curator Branch as soon as the incident is discovered. (See NAVSUP P-486, Rev. 8, paragraph 3502, for information on how to report damaged, missing or destroyed items and recovery of missing items.)
  • Except for objects on loan from organizations outside of the NHHC Curator Branch, all valuable gifts or artifacts, other than presentation silver, may not be transferred to any person or agency without prior approval and disposition instructions from the NHHC Curator Branch.
  • Presentation silver is the responsibility of COMNAVSUPSYSCOM, and questions concerning its disposition shall be addressed to COMNAVSUPSYSCOM.

Reports of Missing or Damaged Gifts

Damage or deterioration in condition of gifted objects should be reported to Curator Branch immediately upon recognition of the damage. A report including the following must be submitted with JPEG photographs detailing the condition:

  1. Inventory or accession number (if provided by Curator Branch)
  2. Object title
  3. Description
  4. Date damage or deterioration in condition was found
  5. Detailed description of the damage or deterioration in condition
  6. Detailed account of what caused the damage (if known)
  7. Curator Branch will utilize this information to provide additional care guidance.

Upon immediate finding that a valuable gift is missing, a form DD-200 must be completed and a copy sent to Curator Branch. Additionally, a report detailing the following must also be submitted to Curator Branch:

  1. Inventory or accession number (if provided by Curator Branch)
  2. Object Title
  3. Description
  4. Date of last inventory
  5. Location of object at date of last inventory
  6. Date the object was found to be missing
  7. Detailed account of actions taken to recover the missing object
Published: Sat May 02 11:21:04 EDT 2020