Overview of the DECK LOG PROJECT

Blue Water Navy Association's description of the project and directions for assisting with project.

Definition and Description of BASELINE
It is Blue Water Navy Association's intention that the Territorial Seas be measured as 12-miles from Baseline. This Map shows the Baseline as red and the limits of the Territorial Sea as a dashed line. Note where it stand out from the shoreline.

Click here for an official site of the State Department defining Vietnam's Baseline with an additional map


The ships on this list are recognized in the SecNav1650 as being in receipt of a Combat Theater Ribbon designating participation in the Vietnam War by virtue of their location and activity within the Theater of Combat.

For verification, here are the entries from the SecNav1650 for the dates that each ship was in the Theater of Combat. This was tracked because they were awarded a medal and ribbon each time they are within the Theater of Combat, which is the identical area designated as where any ship and her crew receive the Vietnam Service Ribbon (VS). The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AE) was awarded when a ship was in the combat zone prior to the creation of the Vietnam Service Medal (1962 through July 3, 1965). That specific instance of the AE medal (noted as AE-I) can be switched for the Vietnam Service Medal by contacting the Review Board that will then issue a DD-215 showing this correction/change to the DD-214. This cannot be done with any other AE award.

There were two more instances when the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was awarded during the 9 Jan 62 and 7 May 75 window when presumptive exposure to Agent Orange is recognized for those with boots-on-ground.


Ray Melninkaitis has been busy creating all these tools that may come in handy IF we need to show the locations of ships within the Territorial Waters of Vietnam as defined as 12 miles from Baseline. Our preference is to remove distance limitations from the Legislative language. However, that is how the Blue Water Navy Bill currently reads. So we might as well be prepared with the data we would need under that scenario.

This program requires Google Earth be loaded on your machine.

Download the Locater Program here. This shows the OUTER LIMITS of the Territorial Seas.

Download the Theater of Combat lines here. This shows the area considered the Combat Zone
and the area for award of the Vietnam Service Medal; they are the exact same area.


What we are providing here is a program that opens Google Earth, so you need to have downloaded the free Google Earth program and installed it on your computer on your own hard drive.

According to current proposed legislation, it *MAY* be necessary to prove your ship was inside the area between this line and the shore line. This line represents the 12-miles from Baseline that we intend the legislation to refer to if that language stays as is.

When you open the Google Earth program, go to the TOOLS on the Google Earth Menu Bar at the top, choose OPTIONS, and than choose the tab 3-D VIEW. Go to the box marked SHOW LAT/LONG and choose DEGREES, DECIMAL MINUTES. This is because most notations of Latitude and Longitude found in Ship Deck Logs generally used the Degree, Decimal Minute format.

Note that at the bottom of the Google Earth window, there is a display of the latitude and longitude that changes as your cursor controlled by the mouse is moved. Wherever that cursor stops shows an exact latitude and longitude to match-up with a reading from the Deck Log.


Directions on checking a ship's location using Google Earth

    The ship's Deck Log has three location boxes at the top of the page. They are listed as degree, decimal minutes with a compass reference, N,S,E.W. See figure 1.
  1. In figure 1, example A reads 16 18.2N by 108 16.3E.
  2. In Google Earth, go to the map area for Vietnam. You will see a Pin Icon in the upper Menu that says “Add Placemark” when you put your cursor point on it.
  3. Click on that to open the dialog box. See figure 2. In the dialog box (shown larger than default), type in this example: 16 18.2N in the first box labeled Latitude. Type 108 16.3E in the lower box labeled Longitude. Note the space between the degrees and the minutes. Click ENTER to set the Placemark Pin.
  4. If the Pin falls between the line and Vietnam shore, that point is within the Territorial Waters of Vietnam. For this example, the pin is within the Territorial Seas.
  5. In some cases, there will be a latitude and longitude written in the Narrative portion of the Deck Log. That may give the location of a specific operation the ship was on. Check that position in addition to the three entries at the top of the page.
  6. Send the Ship's name, the coordinates and the date to our database that is collecting ships that can be documented as within the Territorial Seas of Vietnam. Send this information in an email to ray@bluewaternavy.org . If you can e-mail a copy of the ship’s Deck Log showing this information, that would be ideal. Please try to first convert the Deck Log to a .pdf format and simply attach it to the email.
  7. If the pin does not fall within the required line, ignore it and go on to the next set of co-ordinates. To delete the old Placemark, click it and delete it using the delete key on the keyboard or right click the position and choose the Delete option.

To double check that the co-ordinates were properly keyed in: right click on the pin you placed, and then click PROPERTIES. This will open that dialogue box and show the co-ordinates it defines. Note that these co-ordinates took the decimal minutes and converted them to minutes and seconds. To convert decimal minutes to minutes and seconds, multiply the decimal number by 60. Example: 28.2 minutes is 28+(.2*60)= 28 min 12 seconds.

Some basics for using Google Earth:

You can click on the SHIPLOCATION.kmz file to open Google Earth. Or, when Google Earth is already open, clicking on the .kmz file should move your view to the coast of Vietnam.

When you first open Google Earth you may see a tip window. Close that by clicking on CLOSE.

Use the Navigation Controls that appear in the upper right corner of the Google Earth Window when you move your cursor there. You can then use the ZOOM IN [+] or ZOOM OUT [-].

In the lower right corner are the latitude and longitude of where your curson is on the map. Moving the cursor changes those readings. There is also a "eye alt[itude]" reading. If you are at altitude of about 11,000 to 14,000 miles you can see the entire line for the Territorial Seas and be close enough to see when the pins show up when testing the latitude and longitude reading you enter from the Deck Logs.

When your cursor is in the shape of a hand, you can hold down the left mouse button to move the map around.

If you go to the top menu, under VIEW, and click on the GRID selection, the Latitude and Longitude lines for the entire globe will be available, and will scale to your location as you zoom in and zoom out.

If you need assistance using Google Earth please contact ray@bluewaternavy.org via e-mail.

Ray's Video on Placing a Pin

Ray Melninkaitis has created an instructional video about placing pins on Google Earth with the Vietnam Territorial Seas subroutine active. This will help anyone wishing to see exactly where any set of Latitude and Longitude lines cross on the map. Ray will be taking the lat/long numbers from a typical Deck Log. Anyone wanting to find the location of their ship at a particular Deck Log entry for the Latitude and Longitude should find this helpful.

Aircraft Carrier Spreadsheet Updates

Ray will be keeping track of which carriers can be shown by Deck Log to have been in the Territorial Seas of Vietnam. We would like a volunteer from each carrier to take on the job of completing the research. Anyone willing to look at additional ship Deck Logs is certainly invited to let us know that also. Following the carriers, we will be getting digitized Deck Logs of ammumition ships, and oilers. We will do the same thing for each Hull Type. Digitizing the Deck Logs is a MONUMENTAL project. Those who want Deck Logs of ships not currently on the scan schedule can still get them from NARA as hard copies.

More information on this aspect of the project will be forthcoming as we move forward with identifying which ships qualify under the current direction of this Legislation.

Here is a pdf of the Summary Page of the carriers that have been located so far. REMEMBER, we have not yet looked at all carrier Deck Logs for the entire War period yet. The details are in the spreadsheet above.

Here is a spreadsheet that shows the dates when every carrier was within the Vietnam Theater of Combat. The AE designates when it was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. The VS designates when it was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal.


This Calendar Graphic shows when an ammunition ship was within the Theater of Combat between 1962 and 1975. For all Deck Logs are that are reviewed, dates when the AE/AOE was within Territorial Seas will be marked.


This Calendar Graphic shows when a Fleet Oiler (Hull Type AO) was within the Theater of Combat between 1962 and 1975. When those Deck Logs are reviewed (Hopefully this will happen by mid-2016), dates when the AE was within Territorial Seas will be marked.

When that Hull Type as been completed, we will move on to other type ships. We are starting with thips that are LEAST LIKELY to have been in the Territorial Seas on every WESTPAC Deployment.

Accessing the Digital Archives of the Deck Logs

The National Archives in College Park, MD is undertaking a wonderful project. They are scanning the Deck Logs from ships of the Vietnam War and making them available at no charge on their Web site. They have many already scanned, starting with the aircraft carriers, but the project is ongoing and the Monthly Deck Log sheets are being added pretty quickly. They have not (yet) scanned all the ships that served in Vietnam. So if you are unable to find your ship, it is one that will probably be showing up in the future. This conversion to digital is a long and tedious process, so have patience. And it is being done as a Public Service specifically for you Blue Water Navy personnel.

At this time, the best way to access the NARA site for viewing of Deck Logs is to use the Spreadsheet of the "MANY SHIP TYPES ..." link given below. Find the ship and corresponding Deck Log Month and click that link. If your ship or the specific month is not listed, it is not yet available for Public Access viewing. But this scanning project is currently underway and updated here monthly.

The easy way to a deck logs is via the NARA spreadsheet, Of course, this requires that the user have Excel (or some app that can open Excel files).

Using this approach:

This approach is used for logs that NARA believes are available per their spreadsheet.

Second approach:

JPEG images of each page are displayed. Directly beneath that display is the icon for the PDF file. You can click on that icon and download the entire month of Log entries to your own hard drive.

For the search term, examples such as these have worked:

Sometimes not all available logs were not found using this approach. The jury is still out. It will require more experimentation and perhaps help from NARA.

NARA On-Line Deck Logs of Vietnam Era Ships

Update for Sept 26, 2017

The National Archives at College Park, MD is providing us with summaries of what ship Deck Logs have been scanned and posted for free public retrieval. If you see your ship listed on this spreadsheet here, it is scanned and available for the month and year given. If you don't see your ship here, or the precise month and year you are after is missing, please check back every 4 to 6 months. These updates will continue on a regular basis. The NARA Team working on this gets my salute!

Here is an updated Spreadsheet of MANY SHIPS TYPES of the Vietnam War Era showing Deck Logs for that ship's activities for a specific month and year of that ship while in the Theater of Combat. These are currently being scanned and posted for no-cost public access on the National Archive's OPA - Open Public Access records. Not all ships are posted, and a few of the scanned Deck Logs are not from the Vietnam Era, but our goal is to eventually have all Deck Logs from the 753 ships that served in Vietnam completed. If you DOWNLOAD this Excel Spreadsheet (large file) you can do word searches and use links that go directly to the NARA Archives.

? Note the bottom of the Excel spreadsheet has TWO TABS: on the left is a tab for the completed list of scans, and on the right is a tab for additions to the list since last update. You can toggle between the entire list and the list of the new Deck Logs added since the last update using the TABS at the bottom.

This Spreadsheet is valid as of Sept 26, 2017.

There are now 13,990 Monthly Deck Logs available for public viewing. These Deck Logs as of September 26, 2017 are scanned and available for viewing and downloading. The available Spreadsheed contains some ships not in the 1961 to 1975 time window, but our emphasis is on the ships of that Vietnam Era. We may eventually get all of them scanned, but it is going to take some significant time!

In this update, 201 new logs were added. Most of these are from the Vietnam Era.


There are additional miscellaneous Deck Logs posted at The Veterans Information Website.
If you have Deck Logs from any ships offshore Vietnam in pdf format OR in paper hard copy and you want to share these, please contact Steve Burns . The Veterans Information website will be a secondary source of Ship Deck Logs to those being scanned and posted by the National Archives. There are over 700 ships that were in the Theater of Combat over a 13 year period that there will probably not be much overlap at all.

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