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Replacement certificates for overseas births can be obtained though the State Department.  Other records for life events that have taken place in the United States may be obtained through the CDC.

Bells have a centuries-long tradition of varied use in the navies and merchant fleets of the world. Signaling, keeping time, and sounding alarms are important in a ship's routine and readiness. Their functional and ceremonial uses have made them a symbol of considerable significance to the United States Navy.  This infographic explains more.

Learn more at Naval History and Heritage Command.

The term originates from the Allied Signals Book (ATP 1), which in the aggregate is for official use only. Signals are sent as letters and/or numbers, which have meanings by themselves sometimes or in certain combinations. A single table in ATP 1 is called "governing groups," that is, the entire signal that follows the governing group is to be performed according to the "governor." The letter "B" indicates this table, and the second letter (A through Z) gives more specific information. For example, "BA" might mean "You have permission to . . . (do whatever the rest of the flashing light, flag hoist or radio transmission says) "BZ" happens to be the last item in the governing groups table. It means "well done".

For more about Naval history, visit Naval History and Heritage Command.

A "plank owner" is an individual who was a member of the crew of a ship when that ship was placed in commission. In earlier years, this applied to a first commissioning; since then, it has often been applied to one who was part of a recommissioning crew as well. "Plank owner" is not an official Navy term, and has consequently been variously defined by different Navy units.
Plank-owner certificates are procured by and issued to crew members of the ship being commissioned; they are not officially issued by the Navy. Some ships' crews design their own, while others purchase them from commercial sources. Perhaps the best-known of these are the ones sold by the United States Naval Institute. These color certificates can be obtained as blanks; if the purchaser wishes to provide the necessary information, they can be filled in for an additional charge.

Nonjudicial punishment (NJP) is a leadership tool providing military commanders a prompt and essential means of maintaining good order and discipline. NJP is permitted by Article 15, UCMJ (Section 815 of Title 10, United States Code) and is governed by Part V of the Manual for Courts-Martial and by service regulations. NJP proceedings may be known by different terms among the Services, such as "Article 15," "Office Hours," or "Captain's Mast," but the purpose of NJP, and for the most part its procedures, are common among the Services.

Prior to imposition of NJP, a service member must first be notified by the commander of the nature of the misconduct of which he or she is accused, of the evidence supporting the accusation, and of the commander's intent to impose NJP. The commander will then hold a hearing at which the member may be present. The member may also have a spokesperson attend the hearing, may present evidence to the commander, and may request that the commander hear from certain witnesses. The commander must consider any information offered during the hearing, and must be personally convinced that the member actually committed misconduct before imposing punishment.

The maximum permissible punishments depends on the rank of the accused and that of the officer conducting the hearing. Permissible punishments for officers can include forfeiture of pay (up to ½ of one month's pay per month for two months), restriction to base or to the ship (up to 60 days), arrest in quarters (up to 30 days), and a reprimand.

If the member considers the punishment to be unjust or to be disproportionate to the misconduct committed, he or she may appeal to higher authority. The appeal authority may set aside the punishment, decrease its severity, or deny the appeal, but may not increase the severity of the punishment.
Receipt of nonjudicial punishment does not constitute a criminal conviction.

Request Mast includes both the right of the member to personally talk to the commander, normally in person, and the requirement that the commander consider the matter and personally respond to the member requesting mast.

Request Mast provides a member the opportunity to communicate not only with his or her immediate commanding officer, but also with any superior commander in the chain of command up to and including the member's immediate commanding officer.  Request Mast also provides commanders with firsthand knowledge of the morale and general welfare of the command.

Questions about Navy careers can be answered at MyNavyPortal.  as well as on NPC's Career page

Questions about pay can be answered at MyPay.

Questions about leave can be answered at NSIPS.

Most historical records are housed at the National Archives, though more recent ones may be found at Naval History and Heritage Command.

For muster rolls from 1801 to 1938, write to: For muster rolls from 1939 to 1975, write to:
National Archives
Archives I
Washington, D.C. 20408
National Archives
Archives II
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, Md. 20740-6001
For muster rolls for the period 1976 through the present, write to: For deck logs from 1801 to 1940, write to:
Commanding Officer
Enlisted Personnel Management Center (Code 311)
New Orleans, La. 70159-7900
ATTN: Personnel Accounting
National Archives
Archives I
Washington, D.C. 20408
For deck logs from 1941 until 1973 , write to: For deck logs from 1974 through the present, write to:
The Modern Military Branch
National Archives and Records
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, Md. 20740-6001

Naval Historical Center
Ships History Branch
Deck Log Section
805 Kidder-Breese St.
Washington Navy Yard
Washington DC., 20374-5060

One of the best sources of the histories on the ships of the U.S. Navy is The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, an eight-volume reference set published by the Naval Historical Center. While much of the Dictionary has been available on non-government web site, the Naval Historical Center has now placed the entries on line. You can find the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships at The hard copy volumes are also available in most major public and university libraries. If your library does not have a copy of this set, you can ask your librarian to request a photocopy of the appropriate pages from the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) and have them sent via fax. Some responding libraries will charge for this service.

The Naval Historical Center is on the World Wide Web at or you can also write to them (they do not have the staff for e-mail) at:

Department of the Navy
Naval Historical Center
Ships' Histories Branch
805 Kidder Breese St. SE
Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C. 20374-5060

Learn more about the Navy Band's recordings at:

Unfortunately, we do not produce our recordings in sufficient numbers to be able to fulfill individual requests.  Please have your local library use the CD Request Form.  We will be happy to send a full set of our most recent recordings.

U.S. Navy Band
Public Affairs Office-Recordings
617 Warrington Ave., S.E.
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5054

While not hosted on this site by the Navy Band, a number of pictures and videos of the Navy Band can be accessed through our Flickr page and YouTube channels
Further information can be found at:


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