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).
- Deck logs for commissioned U.S. Navy ships covering the past 30 years are maintained by the Naval History and Heritage Command, Archives Branch, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. Most of these are stored at the Washington National Records Center (WNRC) in Suitland, Maryland. It can take between 4 days to 3 weeks to recall deck logs from the WNRC.
- Deck logs from 1941 through those that are 30 years old or older are located at the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.
- Deck logs up to 1940 are located at the Old Military and Civil Records Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
- Logs over 30 years old, held by the National Archives, are open for research. Requests for research appointments, and inquiries concerning log information, should go to the NARA office holding logs from the time period of interest.
- For logs less than 30 years old, the NHHC Archives Branch provides limited reference assistance. Researchers may also request copies of these deck logs using the following procedures, which differ for individual requestors and VA officials.
Requests for Deck Log Copies from Individuals
The Naval History and Heritage Command will consider all requests from the public for copies of deck logs as a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Under FOIA regulations, the NHHC charges 15 cents per page to duplicate a paper deck log. When you submit a FOIA request for a deck log held by the NHHC, the Navy FOIA Office will provide an estimate of the cost for scanning and placing the deck logs on a CD-ROM. If you notify the Navy FOIA Office you are willing to pay for the reproduction of the deck logs, then your request will be forwarded to the appropriate Atlantic Fleet or Pacific Fleet command for review and final release determination. Once the deck logs have been reviewed and authorized for release, you will receive them on a CD-ROM.
Requests for Deck Log Copies from VA Officials
Due to the extensive nature of deck log records, the NHHC will not provide duplication for VA deck log requests exceeding a two-month period. Note that deck logs are marked “For Official Use Only,” and that requests by individuals must take a different path from VA requests—they must be channeled through the appropriate Fleet for review.