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As many of you know, I’ve been working to obtain a complete muster roll of all personnel assigned to the USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) over the nearly twenty-eight years that she was in commission.

Mark Gray set out to compile such a list back in the late nineties, producing a complex spreadsheet that listed everyone that he could identify. In fact, much of what we call the Master Sailing List on the www.ssn-680.org website is the result of Mark’s initial work, and we clearly would not be where we are today without the his tireless effort.

As of today, we are closer than we ever have been. I have recently been in extended conversation with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), in an attempt to locate official documentation related to the boat and the people assigned to her. Today I have sent off the first of many requests under the Freedom of Information Act that should produce the Personnel Diaries and Quarterly Personnel Reports for the life of the ship.

This is a significant undertaking. There could be as few as 30-40 pages per year, and as many as hundreds. To get these documents in our hands, the NARA staff has to search thousands of records that are not well indexed, and in some cases, not indexed at all. Once found and organized, the records must be reviewed for Personally Identifiable Information (PII) like Social Security numbers and what-not, which all must be redacted before it is delivered to us. So it will take a some time, maybe more than a year, in part because I have agreed to break up the request into smaller pieces, to make it more manageable on their end.

That’s where we stand. In a matter of months, hopefully, we’ll have a compiled list of verified Bates crew members to validate our Master Sailing List, and help you find and reconnect with long lost shipmates that we aren’t currently tracking on the website. That’s a big deal! How big, you might ask? In the two sample pages that they have sent so far, I have identified three individuals that are not currently on our Master Sailing List. One would have been a big deal - we stand to gain much more than that.

What can you do? I’m so glad you asked. Each of these pages cost us $0.80, that’s right, eighty cents in research and reproduction costs. All things considered, it’s really quite reasonable, not that we have any choice. But if you do the math, it means I’ve got raise some money. Let’s say, 50 pages per year, 28 years, carry the four, add the zero, etc., and you end up with a projected cost of $1120. Now, we don’t have to spend that all at once, and it could end up being higher or lower, but it’s still got to raised to “get ‘er done!

I’m making one of my rare calls to raise some scratch, and asking for your donations.

Any donation, no matter how small, will go toward this project. Any extra will be used for other Association functions, including gathering artifacts, maintaining the website, and even our 501c incorporation that Ron Squiers is working on.

Speaking of which, donations are not yet tax deductible but we are working on it!

So you can donate outright using Paypal or credit/debit cards from the “Fund Sailing List Research” module on the right side of almost any page of the website. You can also contact me directly to mail a check.

If you have been looking for a ball cap or challenge coin, the purchase of either through the Ship’s Store on the site results in a smaller contribution, but hey, you do get something tangible back in return.

Either way, I’d encourage you to donate, even if it is only a few bucks - if each active member donated $2, we’d make our goal in a heart beat.

Take a few minutes, visit the site, and dig deep. Each dollar gets us closer to discovering more of the history of the boat, and closer to finding another missing shipmate.

That’s a big deal!


  • By the way, if there are any Yeoman or Personnelman out there than actually spent time in the Ship's Office and compiled one of these reports, give me a shout. I've got a copy of BUPERSINST 1080.53, but it's the current one, and not real clear on some of the older data that was included in the Enlisted Distribution and Verification Record. I could really use some help sorting out some of the dates in the quest for accurate documentation. If you can make sense of the report, I'd love to hear from you!


    Comment last edited on about 8 months ago by Brad Williamson
    from Chikaming Township, MI, USA
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Fund Sailing List Research!

Help fund SSN–680.org research and recover Personnel Diaries and Quarterly Muster Reports from the National Archives, helping us in our goal to identify every sailor that sailed on the USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) and add them to the Master Sailing List.


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