10 Replies Latest reply on Feb 16, 2017 5:53 AM by Jim Collins

    Shipping records for the Panama Canal for May and June of 1941?

    Newbie

      I'm looking for the records of ships passing through the Panama Canal in May and June of 1941. Unfortunately, the printed "Panama Canal Record" ends in April of that year, and it's not clear from the finding aids at the National Archives where one would even begin to look for them.

       

      I'd be grateful any advice! -- Russell Potter

        • Re: Shipping records for the Panama Canal for May and June of 1941?
          Alex Daverede Adventurer

          I may be just fishing here; however, when President Roosevelt declared a state of Unlimited National Emergency on May 27, 1941, his actions may have made the records you are looking for either classified information and/or falling under the purview of another Executive Branch agency such as the Department of the Navy.  The only guess I could make in that case is try the records of the 15th Naval District, headquartered in Balboa.

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            • Re: Shipping records for the Panama Canal for May and June of 1941?
              Newbie

              Hi Alex,  many thanks for that helpful suggestion -- it is surely worth a try. Do you know the number/fonds via which these records may be accessed? I  am hoping to find a way to search them despite not being able to personally travel to the National Archives -- do have an account at fold3 which seems to have some records digitized.

               

              best,  Russell

                • Re: Shipping records for the Panama Canal for May and June of 1941?
                  Alex Daverede Adventurer

                  Russell,

                   

                  I'll apologize up front--I need to look at the kinds of records we have before I respond to queries such as yours.

                   

                  We have a limited number of series out of the 15th Naval District; however, they are either cartographic (plans of bases and such), correspondence files from the wrong places and dates (Naval Station Guantanamo from the late 1940's and 50's, or digitized photographs from the WWI era.

                   

                  The record group for these records--181 (Naval Districts and Shore Stations) is a large one with over 4,000 entries. While most of the record series are readily identifiable, there are still a number that are not clearly identified in our databases that could belong to the 15th Naval District.  However, it would take a considerable research effort on site to establish which organization created the records.

                   

                  Perhaps you could try the Naval History and Heritage Command--their staff may be able to point you in the right direction.

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              • Re: Shipping records for the Panama Canal for May and June of 1941?
                Ann Abney Scout

                Hi Russell -

                 

                One suggestion is for RG 185 - Records of the Panama Canal. You can find the series in the catalog here: Records of the Panama Canal. If you click the link next to "Includes" it'll give you a listing of the series within the record group that are already within the catalog.

                 

                A word of caution: There are quite a few series that are in the catalog with bare bones information, but they have not been processed. You might want to contact Archives2reference@nara.gov to help you narrow down which series has the information you are looking for.

                 

                Best of luck!

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                • Re: Shipping records for the Panama Canal for May and June of 1941?
                  Jim Collins Newbie

                  I am trying to find ship records for passage through the Panama canal August 19-20 and Dec 16-19 1941.  I am wondering if you have had any success at tracking down where such records might be located?

                   

                  According to HyperWar: Federal Records of WWII--Military Agencies [Part IV--Theaters]  "The central files and other records of Headquarters Panama Canal Department, 1939-45, are in the custody of the successor Headquarters United States Army, Caribbean. Copies of the Panama Canal Department's "G-2 Periodic Reports" are in the Air Intelligence Library; copies of its "Monthly Statistical Reports" are in the central records of Headquarters Army Air Forces (in the "bulk" files, under 319.1); and a copy of its report on Operation "Transit" (the redeployment program), July-Aug. 1945, is in the Departmental Records Branch, AGO. The Panama Canal Department's historical unit prepared monographs on wartime organizational problems (1 vol.), training (2 vols.), construction (2 vols.), supply (2 vols.), and transportation (2 vols.), and on the Corps of Engineers (2 vols.) and the Ordnance Department (2 vols.) in the Panama Canal Department during the war; copies of these are in the Army's Historical Division." and " the Panama Naval Coastal Frontier, became the Panama Sea Frontier in 1942. The Commander of the Frontier was also the Commandant Fifteenth Naval District, with headquarters at Balboa. The Frontier included the Fifteenth Naval District (the Canal Zone) and United States possessions and naval reservations and activities in Central America, Colombia, and Ecuador: the islands -


                  in the Caribbean southwest of the boundary of the Caribbean Sea Frontier; and the islands in the Pacific off Central America and the northwestern coast of South America. It also included the waters within these areas and the sea lanes outside but near its western and southern boundaries. The Joint Operations Center in the Frontier was at Cristobal, C.Z. On November 5, 1947, the Frontier was disestablished.

                  The duties of the Frontier were to defend its area against enemy attack or penetration; destroy enemy forces or communications within and near it; protect, control, and route shipping; establish and maintain strategic air facilities; give operational support to the Atlantic Fleet and the Panama Canal Department of the Army's Caribbean Defense Command; and furnish air-sea rescue service.

                  In accordance with a decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on December 17, 1942, unified command in this area was vested in the commanding general of the Army's Panama Canal Department. The Commander Panama Sea Frontier was under the operational control of the commanding general and was designated as Commander All Naval Forces Available in Panama Sea Frontier. He served as a task-group commander of the Atlantic Fleet and a task-force commander of the United States Fleet. The Sea Frontier Forces were divided into the sea forces, naval air forces, and local defense forces. They included the usual Naval District vessels, submarines and PT boats from the Atlantic Fleet, and planes of the Atlantic Fleet's Air Force.

                  Records.--Wartime records of the Frontier and the Fifteenth Naval District are in the Naval Records Management Center at New Orleans. Unpublished histories of the Frontier and the District are in the Division of Naval Records and History."

                  I am thinking of approaching some of these places to see how far i might get - but perhaps you are much further along by now?

                  Thanks for any wisdom you might be able to send my way - Jim Collins