Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
When the writing project was developed the parameters for this series were designed to cover only commissioned US Navy ships with assigned names. If the ship was not assigned a name it was not included in the histories written for the series.
DANFS was originally released by the Naval Historical Center (NHC) in bound hardcover volumes, ordered by ship name, from Volume I (A–B) published in 1959 to Volume VIII (W–Z) published in 1981. Volume I (A–B) subsequently went out of print. In 1991 a revised Volume I Part A, covering only ship names beginning with A, was released. Work continues on revisions of the remaining volumes.
Volunteers at the Hazegray website undertook to transcribe the DANFS and make it available on the World Wide Web. The project goal is a direct transcription of the DANFS, with changes limited to correcting typographical errors and editorial notes for incorrect facts in the original.
Subsequently, the NHC developed an online version of DANFS through a combination of optical character recognition (OCR) and hand transcription. The NHC is slowly updating its online DANFS to correct errors and take into account the gap in time between its publication and the present date. NHC prioritizes updates as follows: ships currently in commission, ships that came into commission after the volume (missing), ships decommissioned after the volume (incomplete), and finally updates to older ships. The NHC has begun a related project to place Ship History and Command Operations Reports online at their DANFS site.
As the DANFS is a work of the U.S. government, its content is in the public domain, and the text is often quoted verbatim in other works. Many websites organized by former and active crew members of U.S. Navy vessels include a copy of their ships' DANFS entries.
Since the Dictionary limits itself to the bare facts, it includes almost no analysis or historical context. Whilst most entries are limited to objective data, some use a pro-U.S. tone, especially with reference to Cold War and World War II events. Some vessels, especially ones with proud records like USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Constitution, have articles strongly praising their subjects' histories. DANFS also utilizes some of the Navy's more obscure jargon.