USS Newport News CA-148 Naval Research - Deck Logs
"Thunder" USS Newport News CA-148 off North Vietnam October 1967 / image adapted from photo by John Glass  
 
USS Newport News CA-148 Research Pages
 
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USS Newport News CA-148 off North Vietnam
( image from photo by John Glass October 1967 )

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USS Newport News CA-148 Deck Logs
US National Archives (NARA) College Park MD Visit

Thanks to shipmate Ron Prisco for suggesting that I visit the National Archives site at College Park, MD, where ships' deck logs are kept !

Thanks to all the helpful, professional staff at the Archives II site.

I have two recommendations for visiting the Archives:

Plan Ahead and Call Ahead.

I actually did both and our visit went very well but it's easy to see how a lack of preparation could sabotage a research visit.  Rules and procedures are necessarily strict and complex but preparation should make them relatively easy to navigate.

NARA's web site is a great place to start:

National Archives at College Park
http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/index.html

In particular,  read every word of:

Information for Researchers
http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/washington/researcher-info.html

Note:  Those links have been good for several months now but most Internet url's have some risk of changing if a web site is updated.  If those links don't work, you might try:

Go to their main page at http://www.archives.gov and look for College Park information.

Call them at 1-866-272-6272

Write them at:

National Archives at College Park
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

Our Visit

I identified ahead of time the specific "hostile file" days that we wanted to copy.  I called the Archives to ensure that the ship's deck logs for 1967 and 1968 would be pulled and held for us.  (They don't pull any records on Saturdays.)  I also made sure that my scanner would be acceptable for the deck logs  (but also took my digital camera , just in case).  We were waiting at the gate when they opened,  registered as researchers,  and spent most of the day there.

Research Card

The next day,  in an email to our Aussie mate,  Doug Cook,  I described the visit like this:

My wife ("Saint Patti") and I spent much of the day there, copying selected Newport News deck log pages from the 67-68 Vietnam deployment.  I spent our time in the research room scanning pages like a wild man  (or as wild as I could be with archivists all around)  while Saint Patti read the entire deployment's deck logs looking for a record of the POW event.  She found it at the last minute,  in the last days of the last month she read.  So much for using my memory to guide her on which months to look in first.  My guidance was exactly backwards !  We then made a mad,  9-hour dash home to Charleston,  SC,  staying just a hour or so ahead of the freezing rain and sleet.  Just got in a few hours ago,  a little damp but no ice !  I love it when a plan comes together !

Fortunately the original,  handwritten Newport News deck logs are in good enough shape that we didn't have wear gloves to handle them but there were plenty of rules,  restrictions,  and procedures.  All that bureaucracy was,  however,  offset by an incredible staff.  Everyone  - from the archivist I spoke to on the phone ahead of time,  to the guard at the gate,  the guards in the lobby,  the person who registered us,  and the folks in the research room -  was helpful,  knowledgeable,  and cheerful !  I'm currently engaged in serious remorse for every ugly,  nasty thing I've ever said or thought about bureaucrats and other government employees !

I was a little disappointed in the amount of information in some of the deck logs.  For example,  hostile fire was apparently only occasionally recorded in the logs.  (Maybe folks just got jaded.  Something like:  "Yeah,  they shot back for while today.  Was I supposed to write that down?")  Anyway,  I got everything I went there to get,  plus a little.



Carl W. Cole
James Island SC
(The Center of the Universe)
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Copyright 2004 - 2006 Carl W. Cole
www.carlwcole.com

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