Military Records

Other Logs

Commissioned U.S. Navy ships maintain several types of logs of the course of a ship's daily activities. Some of the more frequently sought after ship logs include; Rough Logs, Smooth Logs, Quartermaster Logs (aka Quartermaster Notebooks), Commander’s Night & Day Order Books, Engineer’s Logs, Engineer Bell Books, Navigator’s Workbook, Visitor Logs, Anchor Logs, Shore Patrol Logs, Flight Logs, Medical/Dental Officer Day Logs, and Sick Call Logs.

Rough and Smooth Logs

Although often used in reference to Deck Logs, “rough” and “smooth” do not refer to a specific type of log. Instead these terms refer to the working status of a log and can be applied to many types of Navy logbooks. A rough log is a preliminary draft of a logbook that is often written by hand throughout daily operations. The rough log is then transcribed as the smooth log, which is the final version of a logbook and considered the official log. Changes can be made to rough logs but a smooth log is considered final and erasures are not permitted. Corrections can be made to a smooth log as long as it is signed by the authorized keeper of the logbook. Corrections are typically made by drawing one line through the previous entry thereby leaving the previous entry legible.

Quartermaster, Engineer, and Other "Ship" Logs

While not a complete list, the Quartermaster Logs, Commander’s Night & Day Order Books, Engineer’s Logs, Engineer Bell Books, Navigator’s Workbook, Visitor Logs, and Anchor Logs are only some of the types of logs kept over the course of a ship’s daily activities. All of these logs are temporary records and are retained by the Navy in accordance with the U.S. Navy Records Schedule. These logs are all retained for approximately one to three years before being destroyed. Only a ship’s Deck Log is retained as a permanent record. Ship Deck Logs are eligible for transfer to the National Archives 30 years after they have been submitted to the Naval History and Heritage Command. 

Medical, Aviation, and Shore Patrol Logs

Not all activities that occur in or around a ship are the responsibility of the ship. Medical Personnel, Aviation Personnel, and Shore Patrol personnel are some of the more common activities that may occur in or around a ship but are not necessarily covered under the responsibilities of the ship. These personnel often have their own commands and hierarchies that they report to. Logs maintained by these activities are all temporary records, although other types of records may be permanent records. The retention of the logs kept by these activities varies but can generally be broken down as such: Shore Patrol Logs retained approximately 2-5 years; Aviation Logs retained approximately 7-15 years; Medical Logs retained approximately 10-25 years. Temporary records remain in the legal custody of the U.S. Navy until destroyed.