During World War II, when a ship sustained battle damage or any other type of mishap occurred (e.g., collision, running aground, explosion, fire, heavy weather damage), a War Damage Report was required. At the first opportunity, a follow-up, detailed, preliminary shipboard inspection/damage assessment at sea of the affected space(s) was conducted for a required, descriptive War Damage Report. This report was to be signed by those officers performing the inspection assessment and the commanding officer. The requirement was to report date, time, and location or area of operations; personnel casualties (name, rate/rank, branch, and service number); a brief description of damage; and mission impact. If the complete damage analysis assessment could not be conducted and completed at sea while underway, a more detailed inspection would had to be conducted at anchor in a safe harbor or in port.
On smaller ships (e.g., DDs, DDEs, LPAs, AOs, ARSs, AEs, LSDs, LSTs), the formal inspection was conducted by the Assistant Damage Control Officer (ADCO/DCA) (1st Lieutenant), Chief Engineer and Executive Officer. The appropriate department heads - deck, medical, gunnery/weapons, supply and operations - were required to assist in the inspection of damaged spaces under their cognizance to provide systems data descriptions/mission impact for the report. The inspection team was assisted by two yeomen and one photographer, who would create the report in accordance with existing fleet instructions. In some cases, where the ship remained operational after sustaining damage, flag staffs would embark in ships in their squadron to conduct the War Damage Report Inspection Assessment, as smaller ship's crews were overwhelmed with the tempo of operations and maintaining the ship at sea. In those cases, every hour was crucial to those crewmembers after battle damage. If a significant number of the crew had been lost, remaining crewmembers were needed for standing watches - there was no one else qualified (or who could qualify) to steam the plant - and preparing the ship for another possible encounter with the enemy. The threat was continuous, as long as the ship remained in the War Zone of Naval Operations in WWII.
On larger ships such as Flag Ships (e.g., BBs, CVs, CAs, and CVEs), this formal inspection was conducted by embarked staff officers. These officers were assisted as required by the ship's company, including the ADCO/DCA (1st Lieutenant), Chief Engineer and Executive officer, and appropriate department heads, such as air, deck, medical, gunnery/weapons, supply, communications and operations. The inspection team was assisted by three or four yeoman and two photographers, who would create the report in accordance with existing fleet instructions.
The results of formal inspections were submitted immediately by a top-priority, classified message to the Navy Department for immediate review, Fleet Readiness Assessment, and appropriate actions, with a serial number assigned and dated. Distribution was according to existing directives and filing.