The New Year’s Day deck log poem is a long tradition aboard U.S. Navy ships, where a watchstander, or deck logger, if you will, writes the first entry of the year in the ship’s log after the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1.

But to hear the Naval History and Heritage Command tell it, the tradition is waning in today’s fleet, which actually gives the winner and runners-up of the command’s 2024 New Year’s deck log poem contest even more bragging rights. In a world of fewer warrior poets, here be your underway scribes.

Creating anything original is so very hard, so let’s celebrate those who made the podium this year.

Taking top honors is Quartermaster 2nd Class Anthony G. Bentley, who wrote the deck log poem for the destroyer Farragut.

Cmdr. Douglas Ivanac, of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford, wrote the first runner-up poem, while Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Ricky Merritt of the destroyer Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee took third place.

The poems offer a glimpse into where these sailors’ respective ships were as the new year came.

To read Bentley’s poem, Farragut was chasing drug smugglers on either side of the Panama Canal.

“’We’ll see so many islands!’ the captain did say, but all that we saw was Guantanamo Bay,” Bentley wrote. “I must include plant status or they’ll throw a cow, and use my rotting corpse as a temporary brow.”

For his efforts, Bentley will win a piece of USS Constitution’s copper, according to the history command.

Go here to read this year’s winners.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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