Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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CNO Essay Contest

CNO Naval History Essay Contest


On 2 February 2017, the Chief of Naval Operations announced the CNO Naval History Essay Contest to further our understanding of how lessons from history inform our way ahead. The goal of the contest is to inspire insight and dialogue from across the widest spectrum of academic, operational, military, and civilian personnel, both from within the naval services and from those with a sincere interest in the history of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. There are two categories for participants to enter the contest: Professional Historian and Rising Historian. Details of the 2022 CNO Naval History Essay Contest will be posted when they are released. 


CNO Naval History Essay Contest FAQs 


Q: Is the subject matter limited to U.S. naval and naval services history, or can it be about any naval or naval services history?
A: The subject matter is not limited to U.S. naval history, but should be oriented toward lessons that contribute to U.S. maritime superiority in today's environment. The desire is for maximum participation and a wide aperture for essays.


Q: The NAVADMIN lists a REF A and a REF B, what are those?
A: REF A is the “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 1.0” released by CNO in January 2016. A copy of the document can be downloaded by clicking: REF B is the “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0” released by CNO in December 2018. A copy of the document can be downloaded by clicking:


Q: Would we be allowed to reuse material written in a previous academic essay, as long as it's our own?
A: Yes.


Q: Who can enter?
A: Anyone can enter the essay contest who is employed by one of the Sea Services. It is open to all civilian employees who work for the Navy, Coast Guard, or Marine Corps. It is also open to all military who are in the Navy, Coast Guard, or Marine Corps, regardless of rank.


Q: Will joint entries (multiple authors) be accepted?

A: Yes.


Q: Since essays are judged in the blind, how will my entry be identified as mine?
A: As part of your submission, you should provide a document that includes your biography, phone number, and mailing address. As submissions are received, we’ll assign to each essay a unique entry ID that will be tied to your name but invisible to judges.


Q: I've never written for anything like this before. Where can I find previous winners?
A: See the winners of previous CNO Naval History Essay Contests through the links on the bottom of the page.


Q: Which category do I fit into?
A: Professional Category: history curators, history archivists, historians, history professors, and persons with history-related doctoral degrees. Rising Historian Category: U.S. Sea Service active, reserve, retired, and civilian personnel not included in the above criteria. 


Q: Guidance at USNI’s website says my “essay must be original, not been previously published (online or in print) or being considered for publication elsewhere.” The NAVADMIN doesn’t include that guidance. May I submit an essay that was previously published?
A: No, the essay cannot have been published before. You may reuse material written in a previous academic essay.


Q: Announced recognition prizes differ between the USNI site and the NAVADMIN. Is the Naval Academy the planned presentation venue?
A: The venue is still TBD and will be announced in the coming months.


Q: I have a question that isn’t answered above. Is there anyone I can contact for help?
A:  For advice and guidance on writing essays contact Ms. Jaci Day, USNI: email: jday(AT)