By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator
U.S. Navy vessels record events like inspections, speed changes, and their location in a chronological manner in official deck logs. Logs are sent to the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C. and stored for thirty years before being transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration. Deck logs are usually written in a matter-of-fact style with one exception, the first deck log entry of the New Year.
On most ships, the midnight log entry is traditionally written as a poem. On January 1, 1937 the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV 4) entered what Robert Cressman, head of the Naval History and Heritage Center’s Ship’s History Branch in Washington, recalls as possibly the Navy’s earliest New Year’s deck log poem.
Many of the poems are written in the style of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas” or “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Quartermasters Petty Officer 2nd Class Wesley Russell and Seaman Nikolas Appel stylized their January 1, 2004 deck log entry for the USS Cole (DDG 67) the same way.
The year of ’03 has come to an end
Sit back and listen to a story, my friend.
The story of Mighty Warship COLE,
And her survival of the “Big Black Hole.”
So here we are in the Ionian Sea,
Destroyer 67, as bad as can be.
DESRON 18, a part we are,
Sailing the seas, near and far.
Our course 045T, Speed 7 knots,
Our plant full steam, our guns ready with shots.
One last comment, to the terrorists, before I leave,
The message we send should be clear to see.
In honor of our shipmates lost in the blast,
Remember our motto “17 Reasons To Kick Your Ass.”
The National Museum of the American Sailor wishes you a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year. Please enjoy the first edition of our New Year’s deck log poem.
Let us look back on the year we just had.
What made us laugh and what made us mad?
The second month brought Curator Dan
And now we create all the exhibits we can!
The NMAS Foundation and Captain Jim Lovell
Raise funds to break ground with a shovel.
The eclipse of the sun lit everyone’s fuse
And it definitely was authentic news
New staffers Justin, Kelly, and Quintrel Brown
Arrived shortly before a near shut down.
Back to work with more on our plate
So we say “Have a great Navy day, shipmate!”
Check out our website, our blog, and YouTube
Better yet step in our building if you so choose!
For more information about Deck Log Poems, click here.