Reuben James Sailor’s poetic midnight log treasured by family

Charles, Donna and Erin Cunliffe admire Navy Quartermaster 3rd Class Patrick Cunliffe's framed midnight log.

Charles, Donna and Erin Cunliffe admire Navy Quartermaster 3rd Class Patrick Cunliffe’s framed midnight log.

Don Robbins

Assistant Editor

The family of U.S. Navy Quartermaster 3rd Class Patrick Cunliffe, assigned to the USS Reuben James (FFG 57), has proudly framed and displayed his midnight log entry in their home.

As part of Navy historical tradition, Cunliffe wrote the midnight log as he stood watch aboard the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate Reuben James to usher in the year 2013 while Cunliffe and the rest of the crew were on deployment operating in the South China Sea. In keeping with Navy tradition, Cunliffe posted the ship’s New Year’s log entry.

Cunliffe’s sister Erin proudly had the log framed and gave it to their parents, Charles and Donna Cunliffe, to hang on their home’s wall.

“I finally had everything put together and presented the framed midnight log to my parents. To say the least, they were very excited. It was a very special moment we shared as a family. No real words were exchanged at this moment, but I could see the overwhelming pride in their smiles and eyes,” said Erin. “I visited my parents to find they had hung the framed midnight log on the wall, so that any guest would immediately see it upon entering their home,” Erin added.

Reuben James is on a routine deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility and will decommission this summer after 27 years of service.

FFG 57 is the third Navy ship to have the name Reuben James. The first ship was DD 245, which was sunk during World War II, and the second was DE 153, decommissioned in 1947. The Reuben James was commissioned March 22, 1986 and was named after a U.S. Navy Sailor who distinguished himself fighting the Barbary pirates.

According to Navy Live, the official blog of the U.S.

Navy, no one knows for sure how the tradition of poetic New Year’s deck log entries began, but it is believed to have begun between the world wars. In 2004 Stars & Stripes reporter Jason Chudy wrote a piece about New Year’s deck logs. Cunliffe’s midnight log can be found on Navy Live at http://1 .usa.gov/WgNtcG More information about the official nature of ships’ deck logs can be found on the web site of the Naval History and Heritage Command, http://1.usa.gov/ 131WdAf

For examples of other New Year’s deck log entries, check out a developing collection of them at the web site of The Deck Log Project: www. decklogproject.org.

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Category: News