The reason it was necessary to undertake this project is that the only Blue Water Navy (BWN) Vietnam personnel to be granted presumption of exposure to herbicides in Vietnam by the HR-299 BWN Legislation are those who served within the Territorial Seas of Vietnam. It precludes those who served within the Theater of Combat but not within the Territorial Seas. To the best of our reckoning, that exclusion only aircraft carriers and their crews.
As of June 23, 2018, there are only 68 carrier Deck Logs out of a total 555* that have not yet been scanned and read, and so that information is missing from these Carrier Reports. We have been waiting nearly two years for the remaining 68 Deck Logs from a variety of aircraft carriers to be scanned by the National Archives at Bethesda, MD. Perhaps those scans might be provided sometime in the future. NARA has had this list of missing carrier Deck Logs since 2015.
During the Vietnam War, there were 22 aircraft carriers that entered the Theater of Combat. For most of the War, there was more than one aircraft carrier in the Theater of Combat at any time. Every aircraft carrier, just like every other commissioned Navy ship, kept a monthly log book called the Deck Log. A Deck Log records the condition of the ship for every minute of the day broken up by the Watch Sections which are usually 4-hour spans. On any particular day, the Watch Sections usually ran 0000 to 0400; 0400 to 0800; 0800 to 1200; 1200 to 1400; 1400 to 1800; and 1800 to 2400. At 0000 hour of the first day of each month, a new Deck Log was started. The Officer of the Deck (OOD) is in charge of the entries made into the Deck Log during every watch. The OOD might write in the Log or a junior officer might make the entries, to be reviewed by the OOD at the end of each Watch.
During the Vietnam War, the 22 aircraft carriers logged a total of 555* months operating in the Theater of Combat. As stated, 68 Deck Log months for these carriers have not yet been included in our research. Of the available 487 Deck Logs, we found that 437 had no time in the Territorial Seas, and 50 showed incursions into the Territorial Seas based on the three daily entries of latitude and longitude. We used the latitude and longitude that were entered on the first page of every day as reported at 0800, 1200 and 2000. If we found additional specific latitude and longitude points entered into the daily narrative, we considered those also.
What resulted are the Carrier Reports as shown below. For each “hit” (an occasion of entering the Territorial Seas), we included the Header of each such Deck Log along with its page number with the time-block outlined in red and we included a graphic of where that position is in relation to the outer boundary of 12 miles beyond the Baseline as defined within the current legislation. The only locations that warranted a “hit” were occasions when the carrier was south of the 17th Parallel while within the Territorial Seas, which is acknowledged by the VA to be the furthest northern point where exposure to herbicides in Vietnam could have occurred.
One other feature shown in the Reports is a bar chart showing each month (or partial month) that an aircraft carrier was recorded to have been within the Theater of Combat. This data was taken from the OPNAV NOTICE 1650 identified as Reference: Canc frp: Mar 2002, OPNAVNOTE 1650, N09B1, 9 Mar 01. This alleges to show every date a naval unit qualified for a medal or ribbon, including each day in the Theater of Combat of Vietnam, which was awarded by several such medals.
These Carrier Reports may possibly be the only thing that is necessary to prove to the VA that the carrier was at that location and that a crew member is eligible for presumption of exposure under the BWN Legislation HR-299. At the very least, it provides the page number within each Deck Log where this information can be verified. These Reports should make ‘proof of exposure’ a minimal effort on the part of both the VA and the individual veteran filing for disability. As the 68 unscanned Deck Logs become available, we intend to create a similar report for each of those.
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