Within the buildings that make up Naval History and Heritage Command, there are corridors of archives. The long aisles of documents, hosted at the Washington Navy Yard, are home to one of the Navy’s most comprehensive documentation of naval operations, the Command Operations Report.
WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
Story by NHHC Public Affairs
“In 50 years’ time, when future Sailors and historians are trying to reconstruct and analyze the events of today, they’re going to rely on the Command Operations Reports to put the pieces together,” said Laura Waayers, the lead reference archivist at NHHC. “CORs are an important resource for lessons learned. Knowing the past can help you make decisions for today.”
A COR is a detailed recounting of a Navy command’s operations, training, and events. Unlike a deck log, which traditionally records technical military operations, the COR gives a comprehensive narrative of the command and its events over the calendar year. Each command plays a role in the operations of the Navy, and CORs ensure that each command is given a voice in history.
Over 2,500 commands submit CORs annually to the Navy Archives at NHHC. These reports contribute to the Navy’s overall historical record and serve as an important resource to the public.
“CORs bring life to the activities described, and comment on the activities of every department, office, or element of a command,” said William Baehr, NHHC’s Supervisory Reference Archivist. “We use CORs almost every day, serving them to the Navy, government agencies, and the public.”
Laura Waayers, an archivist at Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), and Dale "Joe" Gordon, the lead reference archivist at NHHC, read through a command operations report (COR). The Chief of Naval Operations-mandated CORs are yearly summaries of command’s operations and major achievements permanently archived for future generations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)
The many entities that utilize CORs include the Fleet, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Joint Staff, Congress, researchers, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Beyond government and military organizations, CORs can also be a valuable resource for veterans in assisting VA claims. In some cases CORs from ships and aviation commands have been essential in adjudicating a claim.
CORs are broken into several sections, which at a minimum include:
· Basic command data
· The commander’s annual assessment
· A detailed chronology and narrative
· Supporting and published reports, including
· The command triad biographies and photographs.
The governing instruction, OPNAVINST 5750.12L, outlines how to submit a COR.
Here are some tips from the researchers at NHHC to help organize, build and streamline CORs:
- 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 at NHHC_COR@navy.mil.
NHHC retains these permanent records for 50 years before they are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
Visit NHHC’s website: https://www.history.navy.mil/about-us/instructions-and-forms/submit-a-command-operations-report.html 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 NHHC_COR@navy.mil or 202-433-9873.
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