ESSAY CONTESTS BACKGROUND & RULES

The Institute's essay program aligns perfectly with our mission:

"To provide an independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defense."

The subjects examined by the vast Naval community of those who think deeply and consider the successes, failures and future of maritime and national security policy cover a broad range of fascinating, critical topics, some of which are listed below. Individual essay contests are generally made possible with support from commercial defense contractors, whose interest in encouraging new ideas surrounding specific topics lines up with the Institute's mission to host such discussions. The centerpiece of the Institute's essay program is the General Prize.

The General Prize Essay contest is perhaps the oldest continuously conducted writing contest in the entire United States. The Institute began work on the Contest in 1878 under the leadership of the most recognized and celebrated Naval Strategist in United States history, Alfred Thayer Mahan, then the Chairman of the Naval Institute.

Lieutenant Commander Allan D. Brown first proposed the idea for an essay contest sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute for "a paper which shall be deemed the best" on 9 May 1878 at the organization's meeting in Annapolis. The first contest was in 1879. The name of the contest was changed in 1985 to the Arleigh Burke Essay Contest in honor of the World War II hero, former Chief of Naval Operations, and President of the Naval Institute. The name reverted to the General Prize in 2008. Today, the prizes honor the first, second, and third best articles published in Proceedings over the previous year, from October through September of the succeeding year.

Essay Contest may be found here.

Watch the pages of Proceedings and the usni.org home page for announcements concerning upcoming essay contests.

Essay Contests - 1880 to 1889

1888 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerCommander W.W. Reisinger, USNTorpedoes
1887 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerLieutenant C.T. Hutchins, USNThe Naval Brigade: Its Organization, Equipment and Tactics
1886 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize EssayLieutenant Carlos G. Calkins, USNWhat Changes in Organization and Drill Are Necessary to Sail and Fight Effectively Our Warships of Latest Type?
Honorable MentionEnsign W.L. Rodgers, USNWhat Changes in Organization and Drill Are Necessary to Sail and Fight Effectively Our War Ships of Latest Type?
1885 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize EssayCommander N.H. Farquhar, USNInducements for Retaining Trained Seamen in the Navy, and Best Systems of Rewards for Long and Faithful Service
1884 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerEnsign W.I. Chambers, USNThe Reconstruction and Increase of the Navy
1883 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerLieutenant Carlos G. Calkins, USNHow May the Sphere of Usefulness of Naval Officers Be Extended in Time of Peace with Advantage to the Country and Naval Service
First Honorable MentionCommander N.H. Farquhar, USNHow May the Sphere of Usefulness of Naval Officers Be Extended in Time of Peace with Advantage to the Country and Naval Service
Second Honorable MentionCaptain A.P. Cooke, USNHow May the Sphere of Usefulness of Naval Officers Be Extended in Time of Peace with Advantage to the Country and Naval Service
1882 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize EssayLieutenant J.D.J. Kelly, USNOur Merchant Marine: The Causes of Its Decline and the Means to be Taken for Its Revival
Honorable MentionMaster Carlos G. Calkins, USNOur Merchant Marine: The Causes of Its Decline and the Means to be Taken for Its Revival
Honorable MentionLieutenant Commander F.E. Chadwick, USNOur Merchant Marine: The Causes of Its Decline and the Means to be Taken for Its Revival
Honorable MentionLieutenant R. Wainwright, USNOur Merchant Marine: The Causes of Its Decline and the Means to be Taken for Its Revival
1881 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize EssayLieutenant E.W. Very, USNThe Type of (I) Armored Vessel, (II) Cruiser Best Suited to the Present Needs of the United States
Honorable MentionLieutenant Seaton Schroeder, USNThe Type of (I) Armored Vessel, (II) Cruiser Best Suited to the Present Needs of the United States
1880 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerLieutenant Charles Belknap, USNThe Naval Policy of the United States

 
 

Conferences and Events

2014 U.S. Naval Institute History Conference

Wed, 2014-10-01

The 2014 Naval History Conference is hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and the U.S. Naval Academywith support from The William M...

Defense Forum Washington 2014

Newseum - Knight Conference Center

2015 WEST Conference

View All

From the Press

Meet the Author & Book Signing

Sat, 2014-08-30

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 135 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership