A ship's Deck Log is a daily chronology for administrative and legal purposes. It is prepared aboard the ship, then submitted to the Navy chain of command; thirty years later it is placed in the National Archives. Log entries are made by the Officer of the Deck, who is usually a young officer or, occasionally, a senior enlisted man.
Navy tradition says that the first log entry of the new year may be written in verse, but must contain all the information required by the current versions of Navy Regulations and supporting instructions from the Chief of Naval Operations. This includes information such as:
"...mooring lines, ships present, senior officer present, sources of electric power, steam and water... the character of duty in which the ship is engaged; the state of the sea and weather, courses and speed of the ship; bearings and distance of objects sighted; position of the ship; draft and soundings; (time) zone description; particulars of anchoring; disposition of the engineering plant and changes thereto; tests and inspections; changes in the status of ship's personnel; and matters specified by competent authority."
It's quite a challenge to write a log entry in verse, but many brave men accept it. Thousands of their efforts are kept permanently on file in the National Archives.
The USS Rankin was in commission for a total of 21 New Year's Days between 1946 and 1971. The USS Rankin Association has collected the midnight Deck Log entries for every one of those days. Sixteen of the entries are obviously in verse; five of them seem not to be, but modern poetry is not always easy to recognize. As their reader, you can be the judge. You can download them in PDF form by clicking here then saving the file, or you can send us $6 and we'll mail you a bound copy printed on special paper. Send orders to The USS Rankin Association, 153 Mayer Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15237.