The Navy Deck Logs: Personal Experience
Today’s post is written by Anwar Thomas, an archives technician at Archives II.
Processing and consolidating the Navy Deck Logs in RG 24 Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel was an interesting project in my large criteria of archival experience. These logs are filled with many interesting hidden facts and details concerning important events in American history. Although verifying, re-foldering and labeling contents of the Navy Deck Logs was very repetitive and tedious work it became a learning experience and benefit to have worked on this project with fellow students , archivists and the holdings maintenance team. I have always been fascinated by naval history. Going through the logbooks of various US Navy ships and stations from 1941-1978 left me flabbergasted about the details and energy put into keeping accurate records of naval ship expeditions and the chronology of certain events for administrative or legal purposes.
The holdings maintenance of the deck logs was very essential. They are amongst the records used most and requested by NARA researchers and staff. The precise and detailed information recorded in these Navy Deck Logs provided deep insight into the importance of NARA preserving these records for the staff and the public of current and future generations. The team leader for the Navy processing team, archivist Patrick Osborn, explained early in the project that consolidating the deck logs are very important to staff and researchers that dig into the stacks regularly because it makes their jobs faster and easier. Previously these Navy deck logs were spread out with many chronological breaks and blocks in Stack 470, making it difficult and time consuming to pull a single ship’s deck log without going to many different rows. However after consolidating these logs into fewer blocks, NARA’s staff can now easily find an entire ship deck log from 1941-1945 in one location, thus saving both reference archivists and researchers much needed time.
There have been too many exciting or sometimes unbelievable events and information found in the Navy Deck Logs for me to choose a single, favorite log or ship. Many logs contained detailed descriptions concerning accidents, injuries, war incidents at sea, prisoners, and sometimes even appearances of unusual objects in the sea or atmosphere. For instance, during processing our team went crazy looking for a 1941 deck log for a ship named USS Arizona that we thought was misplaced or missing. However we later realized this log didn’t exist because the ship sank with its deck logs on-board. In 1941 the battleship USS Arizona was completely destroyed by 8 bombs and 1 torpedo during the Pearl Harbor incident. USS Arizona was 1 of 4 battleships destroyed during the Pearl Harbor incident. This was a very important event in US history because it marked the single largest casualty loss of American citizens by foreign attack up until the events on September 11th,2001. Learning about hidden events and facts like the USS Arizona made it very interesting to work with these deck logs.
For more information on the “Navy Deck Logs,” check out the series Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978 (ARC Identifier 594258).