Naval History and Heritage Command

Decommissioning and Disestablishing

Considerations for Navy Commands Being Decommissioned, Disestablished, or Deactivated

It is important to preserve the official records and historical materials of your command for study and research by future Navy personnel, researchers, veterans, and the general public. The directives guiding accountability, care, and disposition of historical items are OPNAVINST 4770.5F (ship and craft disposal manual) and OPNAVINST 5750.13 (Historical Properties of the Navy).

A command’s historical record includes files (both electronic and paper), photographs, books (cruise books, etc.), logs (including those kept in the administrative spaces ashore during port visits), and videos, as well as the many reports, studies, and other records that the command may have submitted via the chain-of-command in response to taskings, instructions, or special directives. The submission of these documents to the senior command does not guarantee their preservation. If in doubt, the materials should be saved for assessment by the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), the Navy’s principal repository of operational records and objects.

Before destroying or disposing of any records, commands should refer to SECNAV Manual 5210.1, Department of the Navy, Navy Records Management Program. This instruction provides guidance on whether records may be destroyed or must be sent to a repository such as NHHC, the National Archives, or a federal records center.

Commands should also ensure that a final Command Operations Report covering the period from the start of the year to the date of disestablishment, deactivation, or decommissioning, is submitted in accordance with OPNAVINST 5750.12.

Contact the Curator Branch for help with determining what materials to retain.

Records (Paper and Electronic) that Commands Should Retain

  • "personal-for" messages
  • periodic or situation reports
  • cruise/deployment reports
  • intelligence reports
  • major staff, command studies or briefings (including technical/scientific reports)
  • action/combat reports
  • major exercise reports
  • published documents (i.e., Welcome Aboard/Alongside, cruise books, news releases, staff or crew orientation pamphlets, booklets used for public or staff orientation, etc.)
  • reports on performance of weapon systems, major projects or material
  • reports of major conferences
  • hazardous waste reports (storage, disposal, spillage)
  • photographs of aircraft, ship, or base (provide to Defense Imagery; do not send photos to NHHC)
  • biography and photographs of CO/XO
  • major awards and citations received by the command
  • staff directory and organization charts (do not include SSNs)
  • cruise books or other published documents

Artwork and Artifacts that Commands Should Retain

  • Bell, Ship
  • Bell, Quarterdeck
  • Plaque, Builder (ships)
  • Plaque, Historical Data
  • Plaque, Commanding Officers
  • Plaque, Award, Battle "E", Ney, etc.
  • Plaque, Insignia, Ship, squadron, other commands
  • Wheel, Helm
  • Flag, National, Last Flown
  • Flag, Union Jack / Don't Tread On Me, Last Flown
  • Pennant, Commissioning, Ship Last Flown
  • Pennant, Award, NUC, MUC, Battle "E", etc.
  • Spyglass
  • Cruise books
  • Photographs
  • Painting of Ship, aircraft, etc.
  • PAO Materials
  • Name board
  • Ribbon Board
  • Board, SWO
  • Board, ESWS
  • Life Ring (Good Condition with Ship Name on it)
  • Program, Ceremony, Keel Laying, Launching, Commissioning, Decommissioning, Establishment, Deactivation, etc. brochures
  • Seal, Notary
  • Other objects that are an integral part of a command's history and tradition should be forwarded with an explanation of its significance

Shipping Information

Artifacts, artwork, and documents identified for preservation should be shipped to the NHHC at the address below. Please use adequate bubble wrap or other dunnage to protect each piece, as well as inside the crate or triwall so the objects do not shift while in transit. Place ship bells in separate boxes or crates within the larger crate or triwall.  


Naval History and Heritage Command

805 Kidder Breese St. SE

BLDG 46

Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060

Attn: Curator Branch

Published:Thu Oct 19 08:55:39 EDT 2017