It was published by the Navy (thus its content is in the public domain) in nine volumes, between 1959 and 1991.
The description of each ship includes official dates and locations of various events, combat and peacetime activities, and some notable events in the life of the ship, plus the physical dimensions and armaments of the ship (if known). The information can be considered authoritative, since it is compiled from the Navy's own records pertaining to the ship.
It also includes short biographies for a number of historical figures after which ships have been named.
Since the Dictionary limits itself to the bare facts, it includes almost no analysis or historical context. Typically, it will say that a ship was transferred from one station to another on a specific date, but not why, and the reader must consult other sources for explanations. While most entries limit themselves to objective data, a number of others make explicit anti-communist remarks when referring to Cold War incidents.