Laura Waayers, a reference archivist at the Navy History and Heritage Command (NHHC) pulls command operations reports from the Navy archives.

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Henry, Naval History and Heritage Command

It’s that time of the year again, time to look back at the previous year and start building your annual Command Operations Report (COR). The deadline to summarize annual operations, exercises and activities for your command is March 1 according to Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) Instruction 5750.12K CH-1. Every command with a Unit Identification Code (UIC) that exceeds 25 people is required by OPNAV instruction to submit a COR. Commands with 25 or fewer full-time employees ─ military, civilian, and contractor combined - can have their immediate superior in command (ISIC) submit a COR on their behalf.

The reports are submitted to Naval History and Heritage Command where they are archived to serve as a public record of naval history as well as a resource for inquiries from veterans, Congress, media and researchers. The COR submissions from more than 2,500 commands are essential in creating an annual record of operational Naval history. Throughout history, ships have used a variety record-keeping methods including logbooks, Captain’s Logs and deck logs, which all serve a specific function. The COR is a means of centralizing varied reporting methods, distilling the information down to a yearly summary of the most significant events, operations and milestones for a command. Reviewing these reports also give commanders insight into their command.

“Sometimes we’ll have new commanding officers come in and they want to see what you were doing in the past five years. A good way for them to do this is looking at the COR. The COR should give you the overview of ‘this is where we excel at, this is where we need improvement, this is everything that we’ve been doing.‘ When they lack it, it’s not helpful to the command itself,” said Sesily Resch, an archivist with NHHC in Washington, D.C 

Submitting CORs regularly ensures that there isn’t a missing piece in a command’s timeline. According to Laura Waayers, a reference archivist at NHHC, the most fielded COR request is by veterans to assist with Veteran’s Affairs claims, “In my job I deal directly with the Veterans Affairs (VA), when they are researching claims they come to us. So if we don’t have a document that corroborates someone’s claim, that veteran could be denied benefits.”

Need help submitting a COR? Start with the governing instruction, OPNAVINST 5750.12K CH1, which outlines how to submit a COR. Here are some tips from the researchers at the Navy’s History and Heritage Command to help organize, build and streamline your COR.

-Identify a person or team of people responsible for creating the report who will stay at the command for several years. The task can become more daunting when it is assigned to new staff members, unfamiliar with the process each year.

-Consider breaking the annual report into quarterly submissions. Some commands have found success with reporting events, operations and achievements every several months that build a solid backbone for an annual report.

-The command chronology and narrative are two different tasks, but both are required. A complete command chronology should list who, where and when. The narrative is designed to give details of what happened in the chronology with supporting documents. Without a narrative, a chronology can often lack necessary details.

-Don’t forget to submit command triad photos and biographies.

-A late report is better than no report. The official due date for CORs is March 1st but you can request an extension by email

-Don’t struggle in silence, reach out to Naval History and Heritage command for help or with questions!

Also, visit the Naval History and Heritage Command’s website  for guidance, frequently asked questions and tips on how to submit a COR. Templates of CORs are available for use and reference on the website.

For more information or any questions, you may have please contact COR Program Archives Branch by email or 202-433-9873.