By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood,Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Caption: SAN DIEGO (Feb. 5, 2014) Information Systems Technician Seaman Apprentice Keenan Walker studies history class notes during his off-time aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). The study of naval history and its relevance to the modern Navy is the subject of the CNO’s Naval History Essay Contest outlined in NAVADMIN 024/17. The essay is open to professional and amateur historians including all uniformed and civilian Sea Service personnel.

The essay requires entrants to answer the question “How can history inform our maritime strategy today?” Specific requirements are laid out in NAVADMIN 024/17. There are a number of prizes at stake, including $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for the second place entry, and $1,500 for third place.

According to the message, the CNO directed the contest to further our understanding of how lessons from history inform our way ahead. It should inspire “insight and dialog from across the widest spectrum of academic, operational, military and civilian personnel both from within the Naval Services and those with a sincere interest in the history of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.” 

The essay contest is open to professional and amateur historians alike, whether they’re in the Navy or not; whether they’re U.S. citizens or not. The selections will be screened by the United States Naval Institute (USNI) and the finalists will be presented to a joint committee comprised of senior staff from USNI (1 person), the United States Naval Academy (1), the Naval War College (1), the Naval History and Heritage Command (1), the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (2), and one distinguished naval historian from outside the Navy. 

History’s impact on the modern age can be a pretty broad question, so essay entries should be able to cut across an enormous array of answers. Maybe Capt. John Paul Jones or Adm. Chester Nimitz’s leadership inspires you as a model when discharging your duties. Or perhaps the successful effort, in the face of overwhelming odds, of the crew of USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58)  in saving their ship after it struck a mine emboldens you to hone your damage control abilities. 

The contest is not limited to specific subjects like those. You can also think more strategically, such as how the Navy has projected power differently across time. Unintended consequences of actions – good or bad - are also fair game. If it has to do with history, today, and the sea services—write about it!

“We’re looking for subjects that study the history of the U.S. Navy, for sure, but any other historical, maritime history that relates to our maritime strategy,” said Cmdr. Ryan Ahler, Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) assistant director for the Director’s Action Group. “I think this is a really good opportunity for us to take a look at the long history of lessons learned and apply them to the present and how we maintain maritime superiority.”

“The Navy is really looking for entries from a full spectrum of writers, not just professional historians and people who do this for a living, but also for entries from those on the deck plates,” said Ahler. “The hardest part will be getting amateur historians and Sailors out in the Fleet to submit, but honestly I think that’s where a lot of the best stuff will come from.”

Submissions may not exceed 3,500 words (excluding footnotes/endnotes/sources), nor may you include your name on the entry. All submissions will be judged blind, so in addition to the essay, please create a separate attachment including your biography and complete contact information. 

Your submission package should be emailed to with the subject heading “CNO 2017 Naval History Essay Contest.” For more details, see the NAVADMIN, or go to . USNI’s point of contact is Fred Rainbow and can be reached at (410) 295-1092, or via email at:

The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history, and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, nine museums, USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus. 

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