DVIDS – News – Voices forged by the sea


The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) is delighted to announce its second annual New Year’s Bridge Journal Competition.

The logbook has always been an essential tool for maritime navigation and the exchange of information. While the content of a deck journal is generally severely regulated, the United States Navy has long upheld the tradition of the midnight New Year’s poem – the first entry of the New Year, written in verse, which gives a brief glimpse into the minds of sailors and life on board ships, and gives a human voice to what might otherwise be a somewhat impersonal sounding document.

All we know about sea travel today is because someone else, at one point, wrote it down. Antonio Pigafetta – a relatively unknown name, but extremely important to the history of the bridge log, was one of the 300 or so crew who set sail on the famous Magellan-Elcano expedition in 1519. In 1522, he was one of 18 men who returned to Spain, successfully completing the first round the world. During these 3 years, Pigafetta kept a meticulous daily journal recording all events that occurred during the voyage, including detailed notes on the geography, climate, flora, fauna and people encountered by the expedition. He also inadvertently documented the international deadline (not officially established until 1884). Its comprehensive notes proved invaluable to later browsers.

Times are changing, and although it is no longer a vital navigation tool, the logbook (or deck log) remains an indispensable source of information.

The goal of the New Years Day Deck Journal Contest is to celebrate the voices of our sailors and help preserve the navy tradition of the midnight New Year’s poem.

To enter the contest, please email a PDF copy of the deck journal page (s) with your poem to the deck journal email with “New Year’s Deck Journal Contest Submission” in the subject line. All submissions must be received by Friday February 25, 2022. Due to the public nature of this competition, submissions must not contain classified material.

If a sailor wishes to be recognized as the author of the poem, they must provide their contact details with the submission email. The poem can also be submitted anonymously. In cases without a named author, the vessel will be recognized and receive the award.

Poems will be judged on consistency, imagery, originality and how they reflect the experience of the sailor. Selections will be made for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The winners will be featured on the NHHC website alongside historical examples from past generations. The first prize for 1st place is a historic piece of copper from the USS Constitution. The winners will be announced at the end of April 2022.

For sample poems and more information, see the NHHC website: https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/archives/resources-for-the-fleet/deck- logs / new-years- concours.html

For questions on how to submit, or general questions regarding the contest, please call the NHHC Archives at (202) 433-3224

Date taken: 14.12.2021
Date posted: 14.14.2021 15:06
Story ID: 411081
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