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At the conclusion of World War II, the political landscape shifted from suppression of aggressive fascist regimes to the threat of Soviet communist influence over war torn Allied occupied countries, and territories still under colonial rule calling for liberation. As the United States and the Soviet Union began to square off on land, a larger, more unseen conflict developed under the surface of the ocean.  Similar to both world wars, the US primarily defended against foreign invasion at sea, and the Soviets made ample preparations for confrontation. They armed themselves with newly acquired technologies from the defeated Germans, and began to assemble a large navy with primary investments in undersea warfare. Submarine forces on both sides were near war footing for most of the Cold War, consisting of  quieter and more imperceptible ships, armed with deadlier weapons as part of the booming nuclear deterrence.

 

This is the first installment of a four part series on the records of Cold War Submarines. It will describe the period from 1946 to 1958, from which there are many records available for research. The second part will discuss nuclear age records of US fast-attack submarines (SSNs) and the height of the Cold War, and the recordkeeping issues with this period. The third part will discuss the development of the Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine (SSBN) and currently available records. The final portion will discuss submarine deck logs for the whole Cold War and the changing landscape of available information.

 

This chapter of submarine history has two distinctive periods with very different availability of records. Unfortunately, there is no one year when the line is drawn, so there may be some overlap depending on the record group, entry, or government agency.

 

From the end of World War II to about the mid-1950’s, the US evaluated the successes of their Pacific submarine campaign and their Atlantic Anti-submarine campaign to prepare for future conflicts. They experimented in the creation of various submarine types, including troop transports (ASSP/LPSS), fuel tankers (SSO), RADAR picket (SSR), and guided-missile submarines (SSG). These experimental developments were drawn in part from wartime experiences. They also studied innovations in submarine technology developed by the defeated Germans and Japanese.

 

By the end of World War II, both Germany and Japan made great strides in developing better submarines that were faster submerged, had more combat capabilities, and were harder to detect even with newer SONAR systems. The Germans developed a snorkel, which enabled their submarines to use diesel engines at periscope depth, giving them greater speed than their American or British counterparts.  The Germans and Japanese experimented with larger battery wells and newer hydrodynamic hull designs to allow submarines to move more efficiently underwater and dive deeper.  They also both experimented with sound absorbing coatings to make submarines less detectable by absorbing active SONAR waves. The Germans developed more sensitive passive SONAR equipment that could hear targets or threats at greater distances. The Japanese developed huge aircraft carrying submarines that had the potential to carry out stealthy air raids.  The most important innovations included the Germans Type XXI and the Japanese I-200 (Sen Taka) submarines. These became the basis for future designs during the Cold War. They were distinguished by enhanced hydrodynamic hulls that were quieter, deeper diving, and capable of tracking potential targets or threats at greater distances, which made the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) practices at the time obsolete.

 

The records of the evaluations of enemy technology can be found in the Naval Technical Mission Reports for Germany and Japan. There are other series related to Tambach Files, captured records on German technological developments in Record Group 38 and in Record Group 242, which include German submarine developments like the snorkel, passive SONAR, and hydrogen peroxide propulsion.

 

For Japanese submarine technology, there are other reports, specifically from Submarine Squadron 20, who evaluated the Japanese submarines that surrendered in Tokyo Bay. These included the mammoth aircraft carrying I-400’s and the I-14 in the World War II Command Files and the Flag File Screening Documents. Also, the final reports of the Naval Technical Mission to Japan (NTMJ) include an evaluation of Japanese Submarines (S-17) and other submarine systems and ordnance (S-19).

 

The other large group of records on the Navy’s evaluation of enemy technology can be found in Record Group 19: Records of the Bureau of Ships in correspondence files, which are arranged using the Navy Filing Manual.  The filing designations that would be helpful would be the country designations for Japan and Germany, which are EF30 and EF37 respectively. There is also a filing designation for captured enemy equipment - EF74. The filing designation for correspondence about submarines, in general, is “SS”. In pairing the different filing designations, files on German submarines are under EF30/SS and files on Japanese submarines are under EF37/SS. These files can be found in the General Correspondence, 1940-45 under the EF 30, EF37 and EF74 segment and the SS segment of the series, the Bulky Enclosures to the Bureau of Ships Correspondence and the Confidential Correspondence, 1946.

 

In the finding aids for general and confidential correspondence from 1940 to 1946, there are several topics relating to submarines that can be researched using the filing designation “SS”.  You can also reverse the filing designation from EF30/SS to SS/EF30.  But to research innovations in propulsion or other submarine systems in the post-war period, you will need to find the corresponding filing designation. For example, correspondence on developments in propulsion are filed under SS/S41-1 (with S41-1 designating main propulsion).  For other ship related developments, check the S-Section of the manual for filing designations for Ship’s Material.

 

You may find additional materials on the evaluation of enemy submarines prior to 1947 that later contributed to Cold War developments in Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces. Listed below are potential series in RG 313 for the Commander, Submarine Forces, Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT) and Commander, Submarine Forces, Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) that may have more materials on the evaluation of enemy submarine technology. 

 

COMSUBLANT

A1 275 Organizational, Operational, Instructional, and Communication Records

UD 1278 Confidential and Unclassified General Administrative Files

UD 2064 Secret General Administrative Files

 

COMSUBPAC

UD 2015 Secret Serial Files

UD 1274 Secret Serial Files

P 53 Secret Serial Files

P 57 Top Secret General Administrative Files

A1 222 Confidential, Restricted, and Unclassified General Administrative Files

P 58 Confidential General Administrative Files

P 49 Confidential, Restricted, and Unclassified Administrative Files 

P 46 Confidential, Unclassified & Restricted General Administrative Files

UD 2041 Secret Correspondence Files

 

These files may contain valuable information, because the Navy relied on the opinions and practical experience of the submarine personnel who had been at sea, in addition to the naval architects and engineers from the Bureau of Ships. In COMSUBLANT, Submarine Squadrons 6 and 10 helped evaluate captured German U-Boats like the Type XXIs, U-2513 and U-3008. On the Pacific side, for COMSUBPAC, Submarine Squadrons 13 and 20 helped evaluate captured Japanese submarines.  Submarine Squadron 13 evaluated the Japanese I-200s (Sen Taka), the Japanese equivalent to a German Type XXI with a streamline hull and larger battery capacity for greater speed and longer endurance submerged. Submarine Squadron 20 helped evaluate the monstrous aircraft carrying I-400s (Sen Toku) that carried three high-speed armed float planes.

 

As the United States evaluated innovations from captured enemy submarines, the Soviet Union also evaluated captured German submarine technology. The Soviets wanted to make immediate use of this new technology and planned to expand their Navy to include a large submarine arm.  The Soviet submarine force became equipped with hundreds of German Type XXI copied subs that would become the Zulu, Romeo, and Whiskey-classes of attack submarines.  The prospective threat of a large Russian submarine force convinced the NATO navies to rethink their anti-submarine strategies. The US Navy assessed that the Soviet submarine threat was so great that all service arms needed to be included in the new anti-submarine effort. To this end, the US Navy wanted to utilize existing submarines and developed a new class of ASW Hunter-Killer submarines (SSK) to be completed by 1955.

 

Therefore, the US Navy updated existing World War II-era submarines with German and Japanese wartime innovations. This program was called the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power or GUPPY.  The GUPPY program gave US subs increased underwater speed, endurance, and stealth, which were all necessary for the SSK goal.  However, to be a good hunter-killer, these vessels needed to be able to both locate and attack their quarry sailing at depth. During the same period, the US Navy experimented with copies of the German Gruppenhorchgerät (GHG) passive SONAR set to locate possible enemy submarines. During the late 1940’s and 1950’s, the US Navy tested passive SONAR sets and how to use them during Project Kayo. The goals of the project were two-fold: to make recommendations for the new Hunter-Killers, and to create a manual for existing GUPPY converted World War II-era submarines to follow in the meantime, until the new SSKs come online. 

 

Correspondence in Record Group 19: Records of the Bureau of Ships, 1940-1966 includes a series of records for each year. To find information on these programs, use the filing designation of “SS” for general submarines and SS### for any specific submarine.  If you are looking for information on specific classes of submarines like the Tang-class or the Hunter Killers, look under SS563-Class or SSK1-Class. These were the first purposely built GUPPY submarines.  The boats of the Tang-class were numbered SS563 to SS568.

 

Unclassified General Correspondence: 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955

Confidential General Correspondence: 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, and 1955

Secret General Correspondence: 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, and 1955

 

[Please note that with Confidential and Secret General Correspondence series in later periods, there may be more restricted classified records that you may need to request under the Freedom of Information Act.]

 

Record Group 19 also includes several non-correspondence series that relate to submarine development during the Early Cold War Period. These include Entry P 37: Preliminary Design Books, 1904 - 1957, Entry P 62: Records Related to Ship Hull Design, 1940 - 1966, and Entry P 13: Submarine General Information Books and Related Documentation , 1913 - 1961. Another series exists in Record Group 344: Records of Naval Sea Systems Command, Entry P 11-D: Ship Information Books and Related Documentation - Submarines, 1914 - 1978.

 

In addition to the SSK Hunter Killer Submarines, the Navy began to upgrade and develop submarines for different missions like the Submarine Transport (SSP), Submarine RADAR Picket (SSR), Submarine Fleet Oiler (SSO), and Submarine Guided Missile (SSG). The USS Perch (ASSP 313) and USS Lionfish (ASSP 315) were developed into submarine transports.  The Navy modified each boat under the GUPPY program.  They removed the torpedo tubes to make room for troops. They added a watertight container aft of the sail to hold equipment which was large enough to house an amphibious tractor. The USS Guavina (ASSO 362) was refitted into an oiler. Several submarines were converted into RADAR pickets, including USS Burrfish (SSR 312) and USS Rasher (SSR 269). Starting in 1946, they were converted under the Migraine programs I to III so that the aft torpedo rooms were removed to expand the Combat Information Centers (CICs) and add new RADAR equipment. You may find records on the development of these offshoots and the guided missile submarine (SSG) in the correspondence files in Record Group 19. With the exception of the transport submarines, these experimental variations had limited service lives as new technologies made them obsolete.

 

On the topic of guided missile submarines, the US Navy first fired small rockets at shore establishments during World War II when the USS Barb (SS 220) attacked Japanese facilities. This led to developing the first guided missile submarine (SSG), borrowing the German’s V-1 “Buzz Bomb,” and Japanese innovations of watertight above deck storage compartments.  Project Loon began in the late 1940’s. These programs led to Projects Regulus and Regulus II, which were built on the same concept but improved the missile and changed the warhead from conventional to nuclear. In Record Group 72: Records of the Bureau of Aeronautics are the chapters and background notes to Admiral D. S. Fahrney’s History of Pilotless Aircraft and Guided Missiles.

 

The National Archives in College Park also maintains operational records for submarines during the Early Cold War. In particular, the Korean Conflict was an example of the pivot from World War II’s unrestricted global submarine warfare to a maritime policy of limited regional war. At the outset of the Korean Conflict in June 1950, the US and the Western Allies were anxious that the conflict was just the opening act to World War III. The few submarines based in Japan and Pearl Harbor were rigged with a full war load of torpedoes and deployed to the waters neighboring Korea to look for Soviet ships.  Unlike in World War II, the submarines of the Far East Command were instructed to observe and await further orders. What concerned the US Navy was the 50 to 60 reported submarines in Vladivostok, Russia. As the conflict continued, the mission for US submarines became the surveillance of Soviet and Chinese shipping in the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan.

 

These reports, as well as other pre-Korean and post-Korean Conflict submarine reports can be found in Record Group 38 in the post-1946 Submarine Patrol Reports. This collection of post-World War II patrol reports include operational reports for US submarines during the period of the evaluation of enemy technology. It includes US utilization of that technology in new types of classes (1946-1950), the Korean Conflict (1950-54), and some post-Korean patrols (1954-59).  The series includes reports of diesel-electric submarines (SS) with a few reports from early nuclear submarines (SSN) and one endorsement for a nuclear ballistic submarine (SSBN).  This is not the main body of records for nuclear fast-attack or ballistic submarines, but this will be discussed in the next installment.

 

Another source of operational records during the Korean Conflict and continuing through 1958-59 are in Record Group 313. In addition to the submarine commands, there may be other files relating to submarine missions under other types of commands, depending on the mission.  For example, there are training reports of US Marines and the Royal Marine Commandos aboard the USS Perch (ASSP 313) prior to and during the early part of the Korean Conflict in the Commander, Amphibious Forces, Pacific. There may be additional  records under other commands, like fleets or service forces.

 

This concludes the first part of this topic. The next segment will discuss the records of the Cold War Submarines from 1954 to 1992 with the advent of nuclear power and the development of fast-attack submarines (SSNs), and the problems that arise with pertinent records.

 

One interesting topic that people like to research is the period between the World Wars, and how the United States evolved from an equal ally of Western Europe at the end of World War I to the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II. The U.S. Navy is a great example of how world events contracted and inflated the service as it was struggling to meet the demands of restrictive naval limitation treaties, while also protecting the United States and its far flung territories across the Atlantic and Pacific as an emerging global maritime power. Emerging from the Great War with budget cuts and surplus vessels, the Navy entered a period of innovation characterized by the development of new technology balanced by a “make do” mentality. They experimented with primitive aircraft carriers and early naval aircraft and made improvements on submarines, the definitive weapons of the next war.

 

The Office of the Secretary of the Navy was also influential in the management and protection of United States territorial holdings like Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands in the Atlantic, and Guam, Midway, Hawaiian Islands, and the Philippines in the Pacific. While maintaining the uncomfortable balance between budget cuts and the increasing threat of war in both oceans, the Office of the Secretary of the Navy shifted priorities from the build up of naval bases in these remote bases to planning the logistical framework of the next war.

 

A great resource for beginning research on the interwar U.S. Navy is with the General Correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy. The general correspondence includes letters, memoranda, and other reports from different parts of the Navy, including the assistant secretaries of the Navy, bureau heads, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Judge Advocate General. The correspondence also includes letters to and from other parts of the government, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the U.S. Army.

 

The best starting point for accessing the correspondence is M1067: Name and Subject Index to the General Correspondence of the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, 1930-42. This series of index cards was originally microfilmed and made available in the microfilm room at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The microfilm has now been digitized and is available in the National Archives Catalog. This series consists of 187 rolls of microfilm listing names and subjects alphabetically. Each card relates to a name or subject, has a brief line about the letter, the date of the letter, and the Navy Filing Manual designation it is filed under.

 

Once you have the dates and Filing Manual designations from the microfilm series, you can use this information to search through the two general correspondence series: the General Files, 1926-40, or the General Correspondence, 1940-42. Both series are arranged according to the Navy Filing Manual.

 

Please note, the General Files series starts in 1926, but the index does not start until 1930. The Office of the Secretary of the Navy believed there would be no reason to index the correspondence following the publication of the Navy Filing Manual in 1925. By 1930, however, the Office had more correspondence than could be navigated with just the filing manual, and thus created an index. The division of the two series in 1940 corresponds to the beginning of World War II.

 

The two general correspondence series contains correspondence of the Office of the Secretary of the Navy at the unclassified and restricted levels. Even at these lower classification levels, there is a broad span of topics regarding the interwar period, ranging from new constructions to planning policies. There are also cards about companies and individuals that helped build up the fleet in the period before the war. The cards also include topics related to gender and race topics including developing policies on women and African Americans serving in the Navy or in the Naval Reserve. There are many interesting gems in these records such as the expansion of the U.S. Navy through the planned, appropriated, and constructed new ships before December 1941 at different naval shipyards. There are copies of the 1940 appropriation bill, better known as the “Two-Ocean Navy” bill or the Vinson-Walsh Act, which lists all the new ships of the expanding Navy that would later impact the outcome of the Second World War.

 

For those interested in the events in the Pacific Theater and the developments of advanced bases, there are index cards for islands including Midway, Wake, and the Hawaiian Islands, and what was being planned for the Asiatic Fleet based in the Philippines. There are also several cards regarding war plans and fleet exercises.

 

In addition to the General Correspondence of the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, there are also the Formerly Confidential and Secret Correspondence series of the Office of Secretary of the Navy. The 1927 to 1939 portion of the Formerly Confidential and Secret Correspondence share a single index. Although this index has not been digitized, it is similar in nature to M1067 in that it consists of name and subject index cards arranged alphabetically by topic. It is arranged in four parts: incoming correspondence, name and subject index, and outgoing correspondence are arranged alphabetically; and a second name and subject index is arranged according to  Navy Filing Manual designations. The name and subject portion of the index lists the topic and what correspondence is associated with it, what classification the correspondence is under, and what Navy Filing Manual designation it was given. Certainly, you can experiment with the Navy Filing Manual portion for the index too, and see what kinds of materials are under a particular Filing Manual designation.

 

The Formerly Confidential and Secret Correspondence are divided into two different series. Both series are arranged by the Navy Filing Manual. Since these correspondence series had been classified at a higher level, they should include more details on particular topics than the General Correspondence.

 

The Formerly Confidential and Secret Correspondence and indices for 1940 to 1947 dovetail to the earlier series.

 

The index to the later Formerly Security Classified Correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations, 1940-47, is divided into several sub-sections by year blocks. Under each subsection, the index cards are divided into groups of incoming, outgoing, alphabetical by topic, and the Navy Filing Manual. The Formerly Security Classified Correspondence is divided into year blocks, then arranged by classification level, and then according to the Navy Filing Manual. You can explore the different formerly classified correspondence series by either using their respective index or utilizing the Navy Filing Manual designations.

 

In addition to the other correspondence series, the index and the general correspondence overlap with other microfilm collections of the Fleet Problems and the Records of the World Crisis, which have been discussion topics on the History Hub.

 

The correspondence series of the Office of the Secretary of the Navy from the interwar period to the early years of World War II illustrate the ebb and flow of national and naval policies in regards to international naval treaties, the shift from limiting naval construction to mass production into the expansion of the “Two Ocean Navy”, and from tentative budgeting for naval outposts to a mad rush to re-enforce them as the situation began to turn towards general war.

 

For information on the Index and the General Correspondence of the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, 1930-1942 and the Index and Formerly Confidential and Secret Correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy, 1927-39, please contact archives1reference@nara.gov. For questions about the Index and Formerly Security Classified Correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy, 1940-47, please contact archives2reference@nara.gov.

 

From a historian’s perspective, it’s easy to see how the stresses and strains between nations lead to the outbreak of war. But what about at the time? What was known? What was missed? President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted answers to these questions, but who could he ask? Who were the proverbial weathermen that could forecast the typhoons that hurled the world into chaos?

 

President Roosevelt turned to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox for answers. Roosevelt asked Knox to gather all the naval attaché reports and dispatches from key foreign cities going back to January 1937. He wanted the search to include reports and dispatches from London, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Berlin, Moscow, and Tokyo. The President asked for reports from Bulgaria and Austria too, but there were not any naval attachés there during the specified period.

 

The reports and dispatches were compiled into a series of records, which was later microfilmed as National Archives Publication M975: Selected Naval Attaché Reports Relating to the World Crisis, 1937-1943. It is a small three-reel collection.

 

The documents that were microfilmed are stamped with various classification markings from Secret to Restricted. These documents have been declassified under declassification authority - DECLASSIFIED, E.O. 11652, Sec. 3(E) and 5(D) or (E), NND 730043, and researchers may make copies of the documents.

 

The reports are arranged in two subseries: “Estimate of Potential Military Strength” and “Probability of an Outbreak of War.” They are further arranged by post of attaché, and thereunder chronologically and numbered consecutively. Letter symbols have been employed to identify the post from which the reports originated. The symbols used for the “Estimate of Potential Military Strength” are:

 

  1. London
  2. Paris
  3. Brussels
  4. Rome
  5. Berlin
  6. Moscow
  7. Tokyo


The symbols used for the “Probability of an Outbreak of War” subseries are:

  1. London
  2. Paris
  3. Brussels
  4. Rome
  5. Berlin
  6. Moscow
  7. Tokyo

 

There are several volumes of reports and dispatches for each city.

 

Preceding each group is a summary that includes excerpts and abstracts of the reports with letter and number notes written in the margins, which correspond to the report or dispatch that it was taken from. For example, K-2-77 indicates the 77th Report in the 2nd Volume from Rome (K) from the subseries “Probability of an Outbreak of War.” There is sometimes a number in parentheses indicating a page number from a report.

 

The information discussed in the reports varies from post to post. For example, the Berlin reports include U-Boat development and the success of overtaking parts of Czechoslovakia, the London reports cover the expansion of British Forces and preparations for shifting of power in Europe, and the Tokyo reports include strategic Japanese plans for China and the expansion of the Japanese military and naval forces.

 

These reports were a selection made by Secretary Knox, but more context can be found through further research. Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations includes  additional bodies of naval attaché intelligence reports both at the National Archives in Washington, DC (in Entry NM-63 98 for the period of 1900 to 1939) and the National Archives in College Park (in Entries A1 98-A and A1 98-B for the period of 1940 to 1946). The index to the naval attaché files at the National Archives in College Park has been microfilmed in NARA Publication M1332, which also has been digitized, and will be the subject of a future History Hub blog. In addition to the naval attaché reports, there are several series of monograph files relating to Germany, Japan, and other countries. The monograph files are basically the Office of Naval Intelligence’s vertical files, where articles, reports, and other printed material were collected and sorted into subjects like functions of the government, and army and navy of a particular country. Another resource is the two series of administrative files for the Office of Naval Intelligence (Entries UD 84 and A1 85), which have inclusive dates that start before the war, but the bulk dates are the war period. These administrative files are arranged according to the Navy Filing Manual (4th Edition, 1941).

 

Despite myriad signs, changes in the wind, and the scent of the coming storm, no one was able to predict what would spark World War II. The naval attachés knew about their individual areas, but could only make guesses as to what their future would hold. The storm would not arrive until the first drop of rain and the first rumble of thunder, which was no longer in the distance, but in the here and now.

 

On August 9, 2019 the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) entered into an agreement to digitize the Vietnam-era US Navy and Coast Guard deck logs from 1956 through 1978. On 28 September 2020, the VA announced the completion of the digitization of declassified Vietnam era deck logs. The project generated an estimated 23.5 million images. All of these images will be retained by both NARA and the VA. Data contained in the digitized images is already being used by the VA to assist veterans in resolving claims.

 

Although the scanning is complete, the work is not finished for NARA. We are still receiving images and prepping them for upload to the National Archives Catalog. Since April, NARA has added over 5.4 million Navy deck log images to the National Archives Catalog. More will be uploaded in the coming weeks and months.

 

We are unable to provide specific details, estimations, or time tables on when any particular ship's logs will be made available on our online Catalog. We also cannot expedite the processing of any specific log. Deck Logs after 1970 will take longer to add to the National Archives Catalog because the digital images must first be reviewed line-by-line for information protected under the Privacy Act of 1974.

 

At this time, no Coast Guard deck logs have been uploaded to the National Archives Catalog.

 

Some of the Navy deck logs already available using the Catalog are listed on the web page Navy Deck Logs Available in the National Archives Catalog. This list is arranged by name of ship and thereunder by year. Clicking on the hyperlinked year will take you to the digitized deck logs for that ship and year.

 

Other Navy logs are available in the Catalog, but are not listed yet on that web page. To locate these logs, go to the Catalog description for Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941 - 1983 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) (National Archives Identifier 594258). Click  on the blue “Search within this series” button.  In the menu that comes up, type in the name of the ship into the upper left hand search field, without using “USS” as a prefix. You may wish to include the hull number as well, especially if there were multiple ships with the same name. After you typed in the name, click on the magnifying glass search button. This should link you to the deck logs for the ship.  Please note that the Catalog does not always list files in chronological order. To see a specific log, click on the title.

 

 

When viewing logs for each month, you may have the option to click on a PDF icon under the “Documents” heading. This will allow you to view the entire month’s logs as a single file. Once you have done so, you may use the blue download button to download the PDF.  Due to the size of the files involved, it may take a little while for them to download in full. Please be patient.  If the files do not download to your PC, please email Catalog@nara.gov.

 

  

Under normal circumstances, you or your representative could view Navy deck logs, to include post-1971 deck logs, in the Textual Research Room (Room 2000) at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. You could also hire a researcher to conduct research on your behalf. However, visiting is not an option at this time. All National Archives research rooms have been closed since at the end of business on March 13, 2020 as a public health precaution due to COVID-19. For updates on the status of research rooms, please visit https://www.archives.gov/coronavirus.

 

Questions about Navy deck logs may be asked here on History Hub or emailed to the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at Archives2reference@nara.gov. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

In the aftermath of World War I with the rise of American global status, a colonial power in the Carribean and Pacific and a component of a European alliance with Great Britain and France, the United States Navy began to take their theories of fleet actions and developed them in practical real world exercises.  These practical exercises were known as the Fleet Problems conducted between 1923 and 1941.  The Fleet Problems were number I to XXI and there was a XXII Problem planned for January 1941, but it was cancelled.  These records were microfilmed into National Archives Publication M964: Records Relating to United States Navy Fleet Problems I to XXII, 1923-1941.

 

The records contained in this series come from three different record groups: Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, Record Group 80: Records of the Department of the Navy, and Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces. In Record Group 38, these series are from Division Fleet Training, Confidential Correspondence, 1927-1941 and Confidential Reports, 1917-1941. In Record Group 80, there are documents from the Secretary of the Navy’s Secret and Confidential Correspondence, 1919-1926 and the Secretary of the Navy’s Confidential Correspondence, 1927-1939. And in Record Group 313, there is the Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet Confidential Correspondence, 1939-1940.

 

The Fleet components involved in the exercises were the Battle Force and Scouting Force. The Battle Force and Scouting Force were sub-divisions of the US Fleet that was reorganized in 1922. The Battle Force later was reorganized into the Pacific Fleet and the Scouting Force was reorganized into the Atlantic Fleet in 1941.

 

Each of the exercises were designed to address a specific component or scenario within the context of a “colored” war plan.  The opponents in the exercises were described as “Blue” forces, the United States, and aggressor forces “Black”, Germany, and “Orange”, Japan. The locations of the exercises do not necessarily reflect the hostile forces being tested in that there are a few Fleet Problems staged in the Caribbean simulating fleet actions around Hawaii. In some of the Fleet Problems, the Battle Force and the Scouting Force were pitted against one another, and in other cases a single force was divided into both opponents.

 

One of the more interesting aspects of the Fleet Problems is how the US Navy was preparing for the next war and how new equipment would be used like aircraft and submarines as well as new tactics like amphibious landings. Another factor that the US Navy was contending with is the possibility of a two-ocean war with a limited fleet that was constricted by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1920-1921.

 

Many naval historians look to the Fleet Problems as evidence to the axiom of “Generals are always prepared to fight the last war” or in this case “Admirals.”  The general consensus is that the Fleet Problems reinforced the notion that the next naval war would have the battleship as the centerpiece of a fleet at the exclusion of other vessels.  Other vessels like aircraft carriers and submarines were auxiliary to the fleet and would be only used in reconnaissance roles rather than a major projection of naval power.  Although, carrier-based aircraft proved to be very useful in turning the tide in a battle during the Fleet Problems. In the 1930s as a result of the Fleet Problems, the Navy elected to construct more aircraft carriers and expand naval aviation. But the true potential of aircraft carriers within a battle group had yet to be proven and would not until the Second World War.

 

On aircraft carriers, there were several tests of carrier based aircraft against naval bases such as the Panama Canal and more famously, Fleet Problem XIII in 1932 where the USS Saratoga (CV 3) successfully attacked the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, HI in a test of the base’s defenses. 

 

For submarines, their potential as a weapon continued to be misunderstood and mired in world opinion, being compared to German U-boats. and being anchored to fleet reconnaissance. The term “Fleet Submarine” comes from this period when the Navy was trying to have submarines operate with the surface fleet and not be perceived as the lone wolves of the First World War preying on commercial shipping.  But because of the dramatic shift in speed on the surface compared to a submarine’s speed underwater, it was hard for the surface fleet to interact with submarines without planning submarine positions far in advance of the fleet. Another aspect of the Fleet Problems that showed bias against submarines was the criteria during exercises where submarines attacked escorted convoys.  Detection amounted to being successfully attacked and this bred a cautious submariner in the early days of World War II.

 

There are many related records to this series at the National Archives in Washington, DC and at the National Archives in College Park. 

 

The National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1), which you can email at archives1reference@nara.gov, has custody of series in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, Record Group 80: Records of the Department of the Navy and Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces.

 

Specifically in RG 38, there are the correspondence series of the Chief of Naval Operations, arranged by the Navy Filing Manual, that include discussions of fleet development and training as well as war planning prior to 1941.

 

In RG 80, there are three series of interest: the 1930-42 General Correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy, (the index is on the Catalog), the Records of the General Board, and the Records of the Joint Army-Navy Board. The General Board was an advisory board of retired Fleet Admirals, and the series pertained to innovations in new ships, new tactics, and new strategies. These series have their own filing scheme based on a topic that is different from the Navy Filing Manual. The Joint Board records reviewed war planning and the development of base defense for Army and Navy installations, both domestic and abroad.

 

In RG 313, there are series of records relating to the individual forces: Battle Force and Scouting Force, and some of their subordinate commands such as commander, submarines and commander, aircraft.

 

The National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) has custody of only a few series in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations and Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces that would relate to the Fleet Problems because the majority of the pre-World War II Navy Records are in the custody of the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference.

 

In RG 38, there is a collection of records relating to the Fleet Problems in the records of the Strategic War Plans Division in Entry A1 355. The date range of these records is from 1912 to 1946 and divided up into 12 sub-series.  In particular, Series II: Naval War College Instructional Materials, 1914-1941 and Series IX: Plans, Strategic Studies and Related Correspondence, 1939-1945 have materials related to the Fleet Problems.  In Series II, there are continuations on the fleet exercises and analysis of each of the opponents’ situations. In Series IX is a set of copies of the historical development of the war plans arranged chronologically.  

 

In RG 313, there is a series of files covering 1940 to 1942 and the transition of Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet (1940), combined with Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet (February 1941), and the two commands being separated in December 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The series is the General Files and Serials of Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, 1940-1942. This series fills the gap between the CINCUS files located at the National Archives in Washington, DC and the Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet (renamed COMINCH) Formerly Security-Classified Correspondence, 1942-1945 at the National Archives in College Park, MD. 

 

To inquire about the availability of related records that were suggested, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email archives2reference@nara.gov, If you are interested in ordering a copy, please provide your mailing address and phone number in your request since both are required for the reproduction order form.

 

To highlight another series that is available on the National Archives Catalog, we are featuring the new scanned series of index cards to the Anti-Submarine Incident Reports from the Anti-Submarine War (ASW) Section of the Records of the 10th Fleet in the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38). 

 

Like many records at the National Archives, accessing the ASW Incident Reports has been a two-step process by reviewing the index and then ordering the reports.  The Incident Reports are arranged by report number, which is numeric and does not indicate the target, attacker, or date.  Because of this, the index is the only way to access them.  The index is arranged by the designation of the attacker of the enemy submarines.  On each card for an attacker, the incidents are arranged by date with a report number listed. 

 

To further explain the arrangement of the index cards, the four small boxes are divided into Ships (A-Z), US Naval Aviation, Non-Navy Aviation (Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard), Foriegn Aviation, and a few cards on Surrendered Vessels.

 

The reports themselves are a record of an attack on an enemy submarine usually German U-boats and some Japanese submarines. These reports detail how contact was made, how the attacking unit proceeded to pursue the enemy, the attack itself, and the assumed result of the attack. The purpose of the reports and the collection as a whole was to learn how to improve anti-submarine strategies and tactics by seeing what worked and what did not.

 

Due to the lack of organization and a central channel for reporting incidents at the beginning of the war, anti-submarine incident reports were not consistent until mid-1942. As the United States entered World War II, America was confronted by a clear and present threat of German and Japanese submarines attacking our supply lines with Great Britain and Australia as well as moving our own troops and equipment to the battle fronts across the sea. Despite this threat, the US  was slow to adopt anti-submarine methods like convoying, securing information on departing ships at ports, and even blacking out coastal cities so as not to silhouette incoming and outgoing ships.  

 

The first move to addressing the submarine threat was the formation of the Convoy and Routing Division under the Chief of Naval Operations in May 1942.  The Convoy and Routing Division was responsible for routing and protecting merchant shipping in U. S. waters and troopships going abroad. C and R was the forerunner to the 10th Fleet, which was established in May 1943. In the year between the establishment of the two commands, the science of anti-submarine warfare had blossomed with refinements to SONAR, improved depth charges, and forward throwing subsurface weapons called Hedgehogs. Also, there was improvement to aviation with multi-engine aircraft that could take air patrols out further into the U-boat infested waters of the Atlantic and with new Arc lights to illuminate them in the night as they recharged their batteries on the surface following a day’s hunting.

 

Around April-May 1942, the reporting on anti-submarine activity became more regular and consistent.

 

The index cards and the ASW Incident Reports also relate to other series in the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38). The Incident Reports, in some cases, may duplicate what are in the Action Reports and in other cases, they are purely unique. The detail also varies widely from a single page or less description to a multi-page report complete with sketches of the attack. Therefore, if you are researching anti-submarine operations during the war, it is important to review both the Action Reports and the ASW Incident Reports.

 

These series also relate to other records within the Records of the 10th Fleet such as Convoy Reports and US and Allied Shipping Losses as well as the separate series of Armed Guard Files, which are reports from the US Naval Armed Guard units that served aboard merchant ships to defend them.

 

Another series of records that have records relating to Anti-Submarine Warfare during World War II are the World War II Command Files.  This series is arranged hierarchically by command and office.  For example, there are ASW bulletins among the files of the Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet (COMINCH/CINCUS); ASW Information (weekly notices) filed with the records of the Atlantic Fleet; and separate sections of records for the offices of the Anti-Submarine Section and the 10th Fleet that were directly related to ASW efforts during the war. There may be other ASW-related materials incorporated into a larger report sent to a higher fleet or regional command such as an island command, sea frontier or naval district.

 

To inquire about the availability of an Anti-Submarine Incident Report or any of the records suggested, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email archives2reference@nara.gov, If you are interested in ordering a copy, please provide your mailing address and phone number in your request, which is required for the reproduction order form.

 

Vessel & Station Log Books

 

The National Archives and Records Administration preserves the log books of the vessels and stations of several Federal agencies (see list), capturing different levels of information and time spans.

 


Researching Log Books
Original log books in NARA holdings are almost always open for research. To view them in person, please consult our website and choose the NARA location you wish to visit. Reference archivists can also perform reviews of log books you are interested in ahead of your visit to verify specific events or dates of interest. Please email the location’s reference team ahead of time, or use the Contact Us online form, to request this service. To order copies of records online, visit our website.

U.S. Navy Logbooks


Navy logbooks are our most popular and well-known logbooks. Logbooks, also referred to as Captain's Logs or Deck Logs, consist of chronological entries documenting the daily activities of a Navy ship or unit. Individual logbooks are arranged chronologically by date, with entries in each day's log arranged chronologically by the time of day. The level of information contained in these volumes ranges from simple entries documenting daily routines to detailed meteorological and operational accounts. Information also can include:

  • Documentation of disciplinary hearings
  • Sick lists
  • Occasional injuries
  • Use of daily rations, etc.

Information available differs widely based on when the logbook was created. Logbooks/Deck Logs are not detailed journals describing a ship's mission and all events transpiring in and around the ship, although they do sometimes provide information about a ship's operations. The entries can be repetitive and dry. They list officers until 1957 but do not list all the personnel on board. Look for those listings in the ship’s Muster Rolls or Personnel Diaries. Please keep in mind that references to individuals in a Deck Log are incidental and most service members are not referenced in a Deck Log. But a Deck Log can provide background information relating to the service of an individual service member such as identifying the service member’s location by identifying the ship’s location.

Some of the Navy deck logs in NARA custody have been digitized and are available online through the National Archives Catalog. Please check the listing to see if a ship in which you are interested is available. 

During wartime or by Presidential order, logs of U.S. Revenue Cutters and U.S. Coast Guard vessels & facilities will be filed along with the Navy Logbooks.*


Logs of Armed Guard Vessels


During WWII, the Naval Transportation Service Division (established on January 26, 1942) determined the current and prospective shipping requirements for the Navy exclusive of those of the operating forces of the fleets and made long-range plans for the allocation of merchant type ships by the War Shipping Administration to the navy. It procured merchant-type vessels over 1,000 tons gross by charter or purchase from the U.S. Maritime Commission on the War Shipping Administration, for use by the Navy as auxiliaries.
The logs are part of the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798 - 2007 (Record Group 24) and the files are part of the Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 1875 - 2006 (Record Group 38). Both are located at the National Archives in College Park, MD:

  • Armed Guard Logs, 1943 - 1945 -- These logs were prepared under the direction of the Armed Guard commander aboard each ship, and comprise a brief daily account of events of the armed guard crew including mustering, disciplinary actions, and security matters.
  • Armed Guard Files, 1934 - 1946 -- The files often include more information about the activities of the Merchant vessel and Armed Guard crew that contained in the logs.


On October 1, 1949, the Naval Transportation Service Division was absorbed into the Military Seas Transportation Service (MSTS) (see below)..

Logs of U.S. Army Vessels

 

At various times in the U.S. Army's history, the Quartermaster General directed the operations of Army-owned and -contracted vessels for the movement and supplying of soldiers. The Continental Army utilized vessels during the Revolutionary War as early as 1775, and the U.S. Army directed vessels for logistical support during operations on the frontier as early as 1792. However, NARA has received few logs of these U.S. Army vessels. NARA’s holdings of U.S. Army vessel logs mostly reflect the movement of supplies and personnel during the time of the the Mexican War (1846-1848), the American Civil War (1861-1864), the Spanish-American War (1898), the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902), and World War I (1917-1919). Information provided in these series varies widely, but often includes name and location, date, name of commander, meteorological data, operations conducted and fuel/coal expended. A few Engineer Logs for and Port Logs about transports are also available.

According to NARA records, in 1951 the Department of the Army destroyed all manifests, logs of vessels, and troop movement files of United States Army Transports for World War II and most of the passenger lists. 

All series of logbooks and related records listed below are part of the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92): Located at the National Archives in Washington, DC


Located at the National Archives in Seattle, WA


Located at the National Archives in College Park, MD

Deck Logs of the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) and the Military Sealift Command (MSC), 1946-81


The Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) was established in 1949 to consolidate shipment of military supplies from the four separate services used during World War II into a unified command. Many of the ships that formed MSTS in the early years were reassigned from the Army Transportation Service (ATS) [See U.S. Army Vessels].  During the Vietnam War, MSTS became the Military Sealift Command (MSC). These logs, which evolved over time and have varying degrees of consistently recorded information, date from as early as 1946 and reach to 1981.

  • Information captured in these logbooks includes:
  • Ship name
  • Date
  • location or port of departure and planned destination
  • ship's course
  • total distance traveled
  • meteorological information
  • brief entries giving a running account of the principal activities aboard the ship.

 

Entries typically mention the ship departing or entering a port, mustering the crew, drills and inspections, passing navigational buoys, setting lookouts, bringing a harbor pilot aboard, and sea conditions. If a crewman took ill or was injured and sent to sick bay, this also may be noted.

 

All series of logbooks listed below are part of the Records of the Naval Operating Forces (Record Group 313) and located at the National Archives in College Park, MD:



U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Coast Guard Logs


The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Coast Guard both created logbooks housed at the National Archives. The types of logs created include logbooks of depots, bases, lifesaving stations, and air stations; Coast Guard vessels, merchant vessels, and revenue cutters; lighthouses, light stations, tenders, and light vessels; and Port Security units.
The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (USRCS) is the nation's oldest continuous armed maritime service and merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service (USLSS) in 1915 to form today's U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). The U.S. Lighthouse Service became part of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939.  Most of the logs in NARA custody date from 1822 to the 1980s, but the earliest log book is that of the USRC Massachusetts for 1791-1795.
These logs vary greatly in the amount of detail they contain, depending on when they were created, who created them, and their intended purpose. They mostly contain chronological entries documenting the daily activities of a Revenue Cutter or Coast Guard vessels or units fulfilling the multiple missions of this military service, including:

  • enforcing the collection of revenue customs
  • smuggling and slave trade interdiction
  • search and rescue operations
  • environmental and shipping law enforcement


The logs can also include:

  • summaries of disciplinary hearings
  • sick lists
  • occasional reports of injuries
  • use of daily rations
  • ship inventories


All series of logbooks listed below are part of the Records of the United States Coast Guard (Record Group 26) and located at the National Archives in Washington, DC:


Other type of log books available:

For U.S. Coast Guard logs from 1972 to the 1980s  see our Regional Archives depending on the vessel's home port and location of station.  Logs beyond the time span of NARA holdings remain in the legal custody of the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

*During wartime or by Presidential order, logs of U.S. Revenue Cutters and U.S. Coast Guard vessels & facilities will be filed along with the Navy Logbooks.



Logbooks of U.S. Merchant Marine Vessels


The Merchant Marines created two types of logbooks:

  • Official Logbooks
  • Merchant Logbooks.


Official Logbooks were required for all foreign voyages mandated by legislation enacted in 1872, and were occasionally filed for coastal voyages when a birth or death occurred during the voyage. All of these logbooks are part of the Records of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation (Record Group 41):


Most Official Logbooks from 1939 to the 1980s are part of the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (RG 26) (see above) and are located in the regions based on port in which log was turned in.
Merchant logbooks were maintained by various U.S. flag merchant vessels operating around the world. Included are logs for:

  • Chief officers'
  • Engineers'
  • Deck departments'
  • Engine room logs


Logbook entries also  include:

  • hourly reports on operating systems
  • personnel on duty
  • any problems or unusual situations
  • weather conditions


All of these records are part of the Records of the U.S. Maritime Commission, 1917 - 1950(Record Group 178) and located at the National Archives in College Park, MD:


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (USCGS)


NOAA and the USCGS conduct hydrographic and oceanographic surveys and studies. The logbooks, with some variance, include daily entries of the ship's position, weather conditions, remarks on the status of each department of the ship, notations of any mechanical problems or unusual weather conditions, and descriptions of the day's hydrographic and oceanographic surveying activities.
There are two USCGS series that contain logbooks and are part of the Records of US Coast and Geodetic Survey (Record Group 23):

These two series are located at the National Archives in College Park, MD.


The NOAA logbooks are part of the Records of US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Record Group 370):

This series is located at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

 

This series is located at the National Archives in Seattle.

To continue to highlight new digital series available on the National Archives Catalog, World War II War Diaries, Other Operational Records and Histories, 1942-1946 is another series that has come from NARA’s digital partners. This series includes some war diaries, some action reports, some submarine patrol reports and some battle histories of various naval, Marine, and other Allied commands during World War II. These records were scanned from a microfilm series that the Navy created from select war diaries and other reports.

 

This series is the first step in researching a Naval and some Marine operations during World War II, but remember this is not a comprehensive series of war diaries and so its title is a little misleading.  If you cannot find a war diary or an operational report for the Naval command you are interested in the digitized war diary series, then please be aware that there are larger textual series of War Diaries, Action and Other Operational Reports, World War II Command Files in the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38) and the U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II (a. k. a. Geographic Files) in the Records of the US Marine Corps (Record Group 127) where you might find what you are looking for. 

 

One of the interesting tricks to the textual series of war diaries is that there are some command war diaries that have been stamped saying that a certain portion of the war diary has been microfilmed. Those microfilmed portions can be found in this series.  As a follow-up to this statement, please do not assume that in all cases where one series ends the other begins. There are several cases where there is duplication and in others there are exclusively solitary copies of reports - meaning they exist solely in one series and not in the other. 

 

The duplication of reports in multiple series or the isolation of unique reports in individual series can be said for action and other operational reports.  Again If you cannot find a particular action report or Marine operational report, then you might try to look at the associated textual record series.


If you need to check for the availability of a war diary, action report, or another type of operational report, then please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email archives2reference@nara.gov, and RDT2 can check their holdings.  If you are interested in getting a copy, then please provide your mailing address and phone number in your request in case RDT2 needs to draft a reproduction order form for you.

In the last few years, the National Archives has been partnering with online services like Ancestry.com and Fold3.com to digitize microfilm and microfiche series of records. The intent was that after a span of time on these sites, these materials eventually will be made available on our Catalog. One of these series is the World War II Submarine War Patrol Reports, NARA Publication M1752, NAID 305243, and Entry A1 307 in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations.

 

This series is arranged by the name of the submarine and then by war patrol number, but through the Catalog, you can “Search Within This Series” and search for any specific submarine.

 

Please remember, this series only includes reports of assigned war patrols and war patrols that were completed. The majority of the war patrol reports are from submarines assigned to Commander, Submarine Forces, Pacific; Commander, Submarine Forces, Southwest Pacific; and Commander, Submarine Forces, 7th Fleet. If you are looking for periods of training, extra duties outside of a patrol, or when a submarine was lost, then you will need to look in other records in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations or in Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces.

 

At the beginning of World War II, Chief of Naval Operations and Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet decided that submarines operating in the Pacific were not to maintain war diaries like other vessels, but to file report on their assigned war patrols as an equivalent record of activity.

 

The war patrol reports consist of several sections including a brief summary of events between patrols, which covers training and overhauls, a chronology of patrol, a record of sightings (ships and aircraft), data on torpedo firing, and evaluations of different departments and sections aboard the boat on how equipment and crew performed during the patrol.

 

These records and this digital collection is helpful to begin any research on World War II Submarine Operations in the Pacific. During the war, submarines were asked to do more than sinking ships.  They were asked to drop off or pick up troops like in the Makin Island Raid and the invasion of Adak, rescue downed pilots in lifeguarding missions, photo-reconnaissance missions, evacuating people and material, and to lay mines.  Sometimes there were additional reports that were filed, but not included in the war patrol reports.  These additional reports can sometimes be found in the World War II Action and Operational Reports, Entry A1 351 in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, NAID 305236.  The action reports can also include reports on the loss of a submarine, collecting all the available information on when they were last hear from or seen.

 

There are other series within Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces under Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Commander, Submarine Forces, Pacific and Commander, Submarine Forces, Southwest Pacific. There are several entries for these commands within this record group.  These series are the administrative files of these commands and are arranged by or use the Navy Filing Manual (4th Edition, 1941). You can use these files to further develop the background to a mission or what information was gained from a mission.

The National Archives entered into an agreement on August 9, 2019 with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to digitize U.S. Navy and Coast Guard deck logs from vessels with Vietnam-era service.

 

“Our goal is to support the processing of claims by the VA and enable sailors to relive their tours online through the actual deck logs, to pinpoint where they served," said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “As a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam on the hospital ship USS Sanctuary, I look forward to seeing my ship's deck logs and revisiting this important history."

 

U.S. Naval and Coast Guard deck logs, in the custody of the National Archives, contain critical information required to validate the claims for those who served in Vietnam and establish service-connection for disability benefits. Deck logs are part of the National Archives’ archival holdings and therefore are not normally permitted to leave their storage locations.

 

A deck log is a daily report of ship activity, typically completed by junior officers and signed by the ship’s commanding officer. The deck log contains information regarding movements (heading and speed), and the ship’s location, and in some cases have information on combat operations, accidents, injuries, and other personnel events. This partnership includes the digitization of deck logs from 1956-78.

 

Beginning on August 22, 2019, the VA will begin scanning more than 20 million images from the U.S. Naval and Coast Guard deck logs. While the scanning project is underway this group of records will be closed to researchers at National Archives facilities, but access will be restored as soon as possible after the paper records are returned. The National Archives will also begin the process of making the digitized records available on archives.gov, after images are transferred to NARA by the VA, and the images are screened for privacy concerns. Tentatively, the scanning/digitization/posting part of the project is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2020.

 

This project will support the processing of veterans’ claims, including those related to the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, and eventually facilitate increased access to these records by researchers in a digital format without having to travel to a National Archives facility. Through this partnership, National Archives will improve access to and discovery of these historically significant records.

Come out and join us for a U.S. Coast Guard Logbook Scan-a-Thon on Wednesday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

 

This event is part of the Innovation Hub’s effort to digitize pages from logbooks of United States Coast Guard vessels that served in the Vietnam War. Learn more about the Coast Guard in Vietnam project.

 

During the scan-a-thon, you will help to scan pages from these records so they can be made available online. We’re hoping to scan 2,000 pages in one day!

 

At noon, archives specialist Adebo Adetona will give a talk about the Coast Guard’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

 

All you need for this event is a research card, which you can get at the National Archives Building. You don’t need to have any prior experience scanning records—we’re happy to show you how it works.


Email innovationhub@nara.gov to reserve a scanner and time slot.

The Still Picture Branch of the National Archives is excited to share more than 6,000 recently digitized photographs of U.S. Marine Corps activities in World War II and Korea.

 

A large portion of this incredible series covers USMC presence in Korea, with additional images dating back to the advent of photography and covering a wide variety of USMC activities. Within this series, you will find images of USMC aircraft, the Marine Corps Band, artillery, atomic bomb testing in Nevada in 1952, communication equipment, commandants, the Cunningham Collection (early aviation photographs), insignia, medical evacuation (medevac), Marines on liberty, Medal of Honor recipients, enlistment posters, the surrender of Japan, and Japanese and Allied prisoners of war (POWs).

 

28-1034a.gif43-0039a.gif74243629.jpg

 

The World War II subjects include the Battles of Bataan, Bougainville, Cape Gloucester, Central Solomons, Corregidor, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Japan, Marshall Islands, Midway, New Britain, Okinawa, Philippines, Saipan, Tarawa, Tinian, and Wake Islands. There are also photographs of Navajo Indians and wounded soldiers. The Korea section consists of photographs of various USMC campaigns in Korea, as well as views of aircraft, artillery, bunkers, cemeteries, close air supply and support, communications, engineering activities, captured weapons and equipment, and much more.

 

Learn more about these records in the National Archives Catalog newsletter.

 

Image sources: