WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The March 1 deadline is fast approaching for all Navy commands to submit their CNO-mandated annual command operations reports (COR).
In accordance with OPNAV Instruction 5750.12K, Annual Command Operations Report, every ship, submarine, squadron and Navy command listed in the Standard Navy Distribution List is required to create a COR and send it to the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) Archives Branch by March 1.
The COR is a snapshot of what a command did over the preceding calendar year. When writing and compiling the report, commands should include any documents related to their primary activities, like deployments, underway periods, qualifications achieved and awards earned.
These records, which are retained at NHHC, are a key source for responding to questions from veterans, Congress, scholars, media and the public about general naval history, as well as historic details from specific ships and commands. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are common, as well. When there is no report to reference, there is a gaping hole in the Navy's historical narrative which also means the hard work and efforts of Navy commands and people go unrecognized. What's worse is a missing COR may have contained the piece of information a veteran needed to acquire essential benefits such as life-saving medical care.
"I am often asked by the [Veterans Administration] to provide documentation in order to support a veteran's claim," said Laura Waayers, an archivist at NHHC. "Many veterans assume that every activity they took part in was recorded and kept permanently by the Navy. The only permanent record covering a command's operations is the COR. I'm afraid many veterans have been denied benefits because they were unable to prove certain events, either because their command didn't submit a COR, or because the COR was not detailed enough."
Accuracy is essential. According to NHHC archives personnel, sometimes not all important activities and information are included in the COR, and "unpleasant" information may be deliberately omitted altogether, distorting the historical record.
Conversely, despite a command's best efforts, some vital information goes unmentioned. Acronyms, for instance, stand for something and should be spelled out for the reader, who may not be in the military and would be unfamiliar with even the most common Navy terms. CORs are meant to serve as reference well into the future, and researchers 100 years or more from now may not have knowledge of historic acronyms. Operational names also need to be accompanied by a description.
Examples of documents often missing or incomplete include:
-- A commander's assessment that thoroughly discusses the command's performance, to include an honest discussion of the command's strengths, weaknesses, and plans for improvement.
-- Detailed chronologies that show the dates of movements and major operations of a command, with a narrative elaborating on the chronology
-- An accurate description of the command's mission
-- Supporting reports, which can be submitted "as is"
-- Operational and administrative chains of command listing at least commanding and executive officers and command master chiefs
-- Official records, such as medical logs, patrol reports, records about ship modifications, and message traffic.
-- Also, commands with rotational crews, such as some submarines and patrol craft, need to submit complete reports for each crew.
Submitting the COR is pretty simple. First, read through OPNAVINST 5750.12K, the latest instruction governing CORs. Also, check the Naval History and Heritage Command website at http://www.history.navy.mil/about-us/instructions-and-forms/submit-a-command-operations-report.html . The website is updated with guidelines that include the current OPNAV instruction, a fillable form for CORs based on the instruction, and tips for preparing the COR. The fillable form is the recommended template, but CORs can be drafted without it as long as they contain all of the required sections. The tips document is a condensed version of the instruction, and includes all essential material. It can also provide clarification while writing, especially for guidance on the Commander's Assessment and Chronology/Narrative sections. Any officially promulgated updates to OPNAVINST will be uploaded to the NHHC website, and the tips sheet and fillable form will be updated to match new procedures.
Afterward, if there are any questions, please read through previous submissions to see how to properly write it out, and for what to include. If you still haven't found the answer you're looking for, contact NHHC's Archives Branch via telephone at 202-433-3224, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or NHHC_COR@navy.mil.
In order for NHHC's archivists to readily see what messages they are receiving, use the subject heading '[Title of Command] COR submission.'
Once the final product is ready, send all unclassified COR submissions to email@example.com or NHHC_COR@navy.mil. Confidential and secret CORs should be sent to the classified electronic mailboxes, firstname.lastname@example.org or NHHC_COR@navy.smil.mil. Top secret CORs should be forwarded via courier to NHHC, but CORs containing SCI should be forwarded via courier to the Office of Naval Intelligence.
DO NOT SEND YOUR MATERIALS THROUGH THE POSTAL SERVICE. Incoming mail is X-rayed, and this process can erase electronic media. If attachments are too large for email, please send them on a CD through a commercial mail/courier like FedEx or UPS. Full submission instructions are located on the NHHC website listed above.
While commands can apply for an extension to this deadline, they need to contact NHHC at email@example.com and/or NHHC_COR@navy.mil to receive the extension.
A delinquent list will be published by NHHC listing all commands which have not submitted a report, or been granted an extension.
The COR template can be downloaded at NHHC's website here: http://www.history.navy.mil/about-us/instructions-and-forms/submit-a-command-operations-report.html.
For more information, use the above email addresses or contact the archives at 202-433-3224.
The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history, and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archaeology, Navy histories, nine museums, USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.
For more news from Naval History and Heritage Command, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/navhist/