The Naval History and Heritage Command is hereby reviving the tradition of the New Year’s Deck Log Poetry contest. The deck log is the official record maintained by all commissioned U.S. Navy vessels. While the contents of a deck log are generally fiercely regulated, the United States Navy has long held the tradition of the Midnight New Year’s Day Poem. The first entry of the New Year, written in verse, gives a brief glimpse into the minds of the sailors and shipboard life, and provides a human voice to the otherwise impersonal deck log.
Unfortunately, this tradition is waning with each passing New Year’s Day. Contests held by Navy Times in the 1960s drew hundreds of entries, but the number of official deck log submissions with special New Year’s Day content has dwindled each year. By reviving the contest, the Naval History and Heritage Command hopes to preserve the tradition and boost participation throughout the Fleet.
This page has details on how to enter our Deck Log contest, a brief history of the tradition, and historical examples available for download. Links to highlighted and winning entries beginning with 2020 can also be found on this page. Submissions may be made by mail or email. Due to the public facing nature of this contest, submissions should not contain classified material. All submissions must be received by Friday, 2 April 2021.
One of the first Deck Logs we received at the beginning of the New Year was from the Yokosuka-based guided-missile cruiser, USS Bunker Hill (CG 52). Here’s how Bunker Hill’s Officer of the Deck Quartermaster Seaman Edison Vargas recorded the ship’s first deck log entry of the new year:
A sea state of one, and port at the trail Hundreds of Sailors awaiting their mail Our shipmates are hungry, tired, and sore Lying in racks wishing one hour more Guided by moon, and stars up above Sailing away from the ones that we love Fulfilling the pledge to protect is our charge Our operations at sea support the Navy at large Our ship has a crew you sure ought to meet RE-2 and INSURV scores you can’t beat If you want to learn more, then go grab a seat And see why they call us the Sword of the Fleet Starting deployment second time in a year Transiting West and the mission is clear The weapons are trained and the chart is on plot We’re the most lethal weapon the Navy has got But the Year 2020, we must not forget Expectations were surely not met The pandemic of COVID began to take hold We stood by and wondered what would unfold The country in frenzy, the nation stood still But nothing stops us, “we are Bunker Hill” The New Year is upon us, the sea we shall roam, The time will sail by and soon we’ll be home. By Quartermaster Seaman Edison Vargas, Deployed at sea on USS Bunker Hill (CG 52)
The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) is working to strengthen the poetic new year deck log entry tradition with a contest to find the best such entry for 2021. For more details on this contest, see NAVADMIN 330/20 and this webpage from NHHC.