What To Do About
Ship Listings Granting Presumption of Exposure to Herbicide

The DVA has now provided several ways a Blue Water Navy sailor can qualify for presumption of exposure to herbicides in Vietnam. On the latest release (January 2011) of ships considered to have been inland or on the beach, a new category has been added for individuals who went ashore while the ship was not anchored or moored. This list of suggestions is to help explain how to go about getting your ship (or yourself) on that list.

The three categories of eligibility are given as:

Note that the list contains SHIP TYPES, where any crew assigned to that type of ship between 1962 and 1975 qualifies for presumption of exposure to herbicide. These ships have not been listed by name, but include at least all LCMs, LCVPs, LSTs, PBRs, PSFs, USCGWRBs, USCGWHECs, USCGWLBs, USCGWAKs, and all vessels referred to as part of the Mobile Riverine Force.

Some ships are also listed by name, and any service at any time from 1962 to 1975 aboard those vessels grant the crew presumption of exposure.

Anyone who is able to show that they served on that type vessel, or on the specific vessel listed, is automatically granted presumption of exposure. Many times, a DD-214 will list the ship commands a veteran served under. If need be, many ship Muster Rolls from 1939 to 1975 are available at:

National Archives
Archives II
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, Md. 20740-6001

Some ships have been listed by name and specific date of their service on inland waters or of the time they were docked in Vietnam. For those ships, you simply need to show proof you were on board that ship at the specified time to qualify. For ships that docked, you need to furnish a statement that you in fact did step off the ship onto the dock. You must provide the reason you left the ship. That statement must contain the following phrase just prior to your signature: “I CERTIFY THAT the above statements I have made are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.”

If you were on board a ship that required you to go ashore to pick up supplies, equipment or personnel, or to deliver supplies, equipment or personnel, you will need to furnish a fairly complete package with the following information:

Inland Water Service eligibility for benefits of 'presumption of exposure to herbicides in Vietnam,' will be granted if you can provide official documentation that your ship was on the inland waters, which is defined as any point inland from the mouth of a river or canal. Being stationed “at the mouth of a river” is also granted. Any presence in ports, bays or harbors, or any close proximity to the shoreline is not being considered as qualifying for these benefits.

Proof of the ship’s presence on Inland Water can be obtained from the ship’s Deck Logs, where the narrative in the Log will describe the ship’s activities. Deck Logs are available from NARA, College Park, MD, at the address given above. There are some other official documents that can prove this, but the final word will generally be the entry in the Deck Log.

You can use a Cruise Book statement, often in a message from the Captain or XO about “how much fun we had on this cruise” if it clearly states the ship operated on inland waters, or describes a docking. This can serve as the official documentation for submission to prove the location of the ship. Personal records or statements, including Buddy Letters, are typically not accepted in lieu of Deck Logs or Cruise Book information.

The DVA is capable of obtaining these records. However, if you procure these documents yourself, you will be able to submit a complete package that you know contains the needed material and often get the materials quicker than the DVA can do. The Deck Logs (which are available from NARA in Bethesda, MD) are fairly expensive, and unless you have only a limited period of time you need to get, it could become cost prohibitive for any one person. The folks at NARA are very helpful, and the copies are $0.75 per page. The value of the Cruise Book would be to narrow or pin down the dates an inland water service occurred without need for the Deck Logs.

We suggest that because this listing will be beneficial to everyone who was on board at that time, a Ship's Associations could help coordinate the activities of gathering the proof. That way you could see if anyone else has already procured a copy of the Deck Logs you need for previous work they might have done and a larger group could share the cost when Deck Logs for long spans of time are required.

Once you have this information together, it can be submitted to your Regional Office with your claim, if you have one. But in any case, please forward a copy of the specific pages which state your proof to navy@bluewaternavy.org so that it can be submitted to the central DVA database, which will then make it available to all Regional Offices via an internal web network. Please scan only the pertinent Deck Logs to PDF files and attach them to the email. If you are absolutely unable to scan the pages, you can fax them to 1-866-876-2962. But faxed pages don't come out nearly as readable as scanned pages, so please try to do your submissions by scanning them. John Rossie, Executive Director

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