Subchaser Information Sources

Information for those searching for information about a Serviceman’s tour of duty on a particular Subchaser, or for information about a particular Subchaser, or for general information about Subchasers as vessels:

General

The Naval Historical Center (NHC) operates an excellent web site at: http://www.history.navy.mil/ This website can take you to many other Navy sites and help answer a lot of your questions, and provides links to another site that the Navy maintains, which is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section located at: http://www.history.navy.mil/nhc3.html

The FAQ site can answer many of your questions such as

Ships’ Muster Rolls

There are Muster Rolls available at National Archives in College Park, MD, for each WWII era Subchaser that show the Subchaser’s roster of enlisted men during the War. These are available on microfilm for viewing, copying, or purchase. The Muster Rolls show the enlisted members of the ship’s crew on a monthly basis, and show additions and departing crewmembers. The officers on the ships during the WWII era were not shown in the Muster Rolls, but were shown on the first page of the month of the Deck Logs (refer to Ships Histories, below). The Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001 (301-837-3510) has microfilm copies of the muster rolls from 1939 through 1975. After 1956, a list of the officers is usually included with the muster rolls. The Modern Military Branch at College Park also has custody of the Bureau of Naval Personnel Casualty Files, which have the official list of Navy casualties for each World War II action. By using the list of officers in the deck logs and the muster rolls, one can compile a list of the crew. Then by using the crew list and the list of Casualties the names of the survivors of a World War II ship or vessel can be created. Information on ordering records from National Archives can be found at: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/#nprc.

For pre-WWII era, the Old Military and Civil Records Branch, National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408 (202-501-5385) holds copies of the deck logs from 1801 through December 1940, as well as the muster rolls through 1938 in bound books.

Ships’ Histories

Most information about the day-to-day activities of particular subchasers for WWII is located at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. They have what are called Deck Logs, which vary somewhat in detail and readability from vessel to vessel. They usually have a page for each day that a Subchaser was in operation, from the time it was commissioned as a Naval vessel, until it was decommissioned. The Deck Logs usually list the Officer’s full names, next of kin, and address of next of kin. The Deck Logs usually have a list of crew member names, particularly when the vessel is first commissioned, although some do not. Most Deck Logs just show arrivals and departures of particular crew members from a vessel; e.g., “John Doe reported for duty aboard this vessel this date”. The Deck Logs usually indicate where a particular Subchaser was on a given date, and speak in general terms about anything unusual; e.g., “Proceeded on Westerly course to Leyte, spotted floating debris and investigated”. Usually an Action Report was filed if a Subchaser was involved in anything more serious; e.g., if a potential submarine was noted and a depth charge attack was launched or there was any kind of combat activity. One generally has to go to National Archives in College Park to view this material. When you go to College Park, a Naval Historian in the Textual Reference section can help you look for specific material. College Park is a large facility and is pretty user friendly. But they won’t do the research for you. They’ll help you find what you’re looking for or at least steer you in the right direction. But National Archives is a huge facility with mountains of material, much of which is not indexed real well. Be prepared to spend many hours or days there. College Park also has a huge photographic collection on the 5th floor, but again a lot of it is not indexed very well. For more information on National Archives at College Park, MD, such as hours of operation, etc. go to: http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/. Information on the Textual Reference Section of National Archives is found at: http://www.archives.gov/research/formats/textual.html.

National Archives in College Park, MD is your best bet for information about particular ships’ histories. The Deck Logs and Action Reports located in the Textual Reference Section provide some of the best information you’re going to find about specific Subchasers. The photographic section at National Archives has photos of most WWII Subchasers. Information on ordering records from National Archives can be found at: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/#nprc.

The Naval Historical Center at the Washington Navy Yard has transferred most of their WWII operational records to the National Archives. However, they still maintain some records, have a very nice and comprehensive library, have some ships’ history information, and have a large photographic collection. Their web site is located at: http://www.history.navy.mil/.

The Naval Institute in Annapolis, MD also has a library and photographic collection, with limited information on Subchasers. Their web site is located at www.usni.org.

Ships’ Plans

The National Archives in College Park, MD has microfilm drawings of Subchasers which can be purchased or you can go there and copy selected sections as appropriate. A complete microfilm roll for a Subchaser costs around $125 - $150. Of course, you’ll need a microfilm reader to look at them also. National Archives information is found at www.nara.gov and http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/.

Information on ordering records from National Archives can be found at: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/#nprc.

Another source that could be tried if one wants the real thing is through one of the Subchaser builders. A few of them are still in operation — most are not.

Most of the above information was obtained from the Naval Historical Center (NHC) website at: http://www.history.navy.mil/ and the National Archives websites at www.nara.gov and http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/

Subchaser Photos

The Still Photos collection at National Archives in College Park, MD has many photos of subchasers.

The Photographic Section of the Naval Historical Center at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, DC has many subchaser photos.

The Naval Institute: http://www.usni.org/

Navsource: www.navsource.org in the “Patrol Vessels” section