Naval Historical Center Renamed, Elevated to Command Status

USS Constitution

USS Constitution

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The Naval Historical Center was renamed the Naval History and Heritage Command Dec. 1 to reflect the importance of naval heritage to the Navy’s mission.

Retired Rear Adm. Jay A. DeLoach was named the director of the Naval Historical Center in June of 2008. He assumes responsibility for the new command.

“We believe that historical analysis is essential for naval professionals and policymakers,” said DeLoach. “It is our mission to preserve and interpret the Navy’s hard earned experience and to protect and publicize the history of those of the sea services who sacrificed to defend our nation.”

“Knowledge of the Navy’s heritage enhances the morale and motivation of our dedicated enlisted personnel, our officers and our devoted civilians. The [Naval] History and Heritage Command subscribes to the statement of naval strategist, historian and flag officer Alfred Thayer Mahan when he said, ‘…the study of history lies at the foundation of all sound military conclusions and practice.'”

The renaming was precipitated by the consolidation of 12 major U.S. Navy museums under the Naval Historical Center, which doubled the center’s personnel resources and greatly increased its fiscal responsibility.

The Naval History and Heritage Command traces its lineage to 1800 when then-President John Adams asked Benjamin Stoddert, the first secretary of the Navy, to prepare a catalog of professional books for use by secretaries of the Navy.

Today, the command’s management center located in the historic Washington Navy Yard in Washington, is the principal repository of the United States Navy’s institutional memory for the operational fleet. At the command is the Department of Navy Library, a research institution, a reference service, publishers of Navy historic books, and the curators of Navy artifacts and historic documents.

The maintenance and repair of USS Constitution at the Boston Navy Yard is a Naval History and Heritage Command responsibility. Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. It boasts 450,000 visitors per year.

The command also has an underwater archaeology program involved in research including the science and technology used to locate and study shipwrecks. The team has dived on and recovered many historic artifacts now on display at the Navy museums.

Most archival and photographic collections are open to researchers. Official duties permitting, staff historians and archivists advise researchers on naval history at the command.



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