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CNO Essay Contest

CNO Naval History Essay Contest

The Chief of Naval Operations announced the CNO Naval History Essay Contest on 2 February 2017 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 three categories for participants to enter the contest: Professional, Rising, and Midshipmen and Cadet. Details of the 2023 CNO Naval History Essay Contest are provided below, and can also be found in NAVADMIN 039/23. Winners for the 2023 contest have been announced. Details of the 2024 Naval History Essay Contest will be announced on this page when they become available. 

CNO Naval History Essay Contest FAQs


Q. What is the purpose of the essay contest?


A: To engage and leverage the intellectual talents of the members of the U.S. maritime services (i.e., the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard as well as the Merchant Marine) to provide insights and catalyze discussions on how to establish and maintain maritime superiority in our era of strategic competition.


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: Contest submissions are not limited to U.S. naval history, but should be oriented toward lessons that contribute to establishing and maintaining maritime superiority in an era of strategic competition. A list of subjects for consideration can be found here.


Q: Are we allowed to reuse material written in a previous academic essay as long as it's our own?


A: Submissions must be the author’s or co-author’s original work, neither previously published nor currently under consideration for publication. Neither may it have been previously submitted to the CNO Naval History Essay Contest. You may, however, reuse material written in/for a previous academic essay.


Q: Who can enter?


A: The rules for entrant eligibility in previous categories have changed. Essays will be accepted from entrants qualified in the Professional, Rising, and Midshipman and Cadet categories.


    a. Professional Category:

(1) Historians, professors, history curators, archivists, and persons with history-related doctoral degrees;

(2) Authors of books on naval history (not including self-published works); or

(3) Civilians who have published articles in an established historical or naval journal or magazine.


    b. Rising Category: Those that do not fall in the Professional Category and are either:

(1) Active duty, reservists, veterans, and federal civilian personnel of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine; or

(2) Members of foreign militaries who have orders and are serving in an official billet in one of the above listed services.


    c. Midshipmen and Cadet Category:

(1) Students enrolled at the United States Naval Academy, United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, and the State Maritime academies; or

(2) Students enrolled in an official naval ROTC Program.


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


A: For the Rising Category, yes, but both authors must be eligible under the Rising Category.


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: 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, visit, or contact USNI via email: