The Cartographic Branch at the National Archives is home to over one million ship plans, with records spanning more than 15 distinct Record Groups and over 25 separate series. These drawings are among the most requested records from researchers in the Cartographic Branch.
The National Archives holds ship engineering drawings for a majority of vessels commissioned by the United States Navy dating from the 1790s through the Korean War era. These drawings mostly consist of inboard and outboard profiles, deck plans, and sections, although additional general arrangement drawings exist for some ships.
The majority of ship plans held by the Cartographic Branch can be found within Record Group 19: Records of the Bureau of Ships. Established in 1940, the Bureau of Ships was responsible for the construction and maintenance of the ships of the US Navy.
Within Record Group 19, you will find the Alphabetical Series of Ship Engineering Drawings, National Archives Identifier 559623. This series, consisting of measured engineering drawings, is subdivided into rolled and flat sub-series of plans. The Cartographic Branch recently digitized over 11,000 of these drawings, now available to view and download in the Catalog: Alphabetical Series of Ship Engineering Drawings.
Learn more about these records, including blog posts with additional information and resources on the National Archives website: Ship Plans in the Cartographic Research Room at College Park, MD.
Photos, from above: drawings of Naval Vessels and Equipment, 1939-1945, U.S. Ship of the Line Ware #17; and USS Oklahoma (BB-37): booklet of General Plans – Cover & Title Page / General Dimensions & Data / Inboard Profile (National Archives).