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.
|1919 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|First Honorable Mention||Captain Reginald R. Belknap, USN||Military Character|
|Second Honorable Mention||Lieutenant Commander B.S. Bullard, (CC), USN||Some Reflections on the Three Factors of Battleship Design|
|1918 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|Prize Winner||Lieutenant H.H. Frost, USN||Letters on Naval Tactics|
|First Honorable Mention||Commander H.O. Rittenhouse, USN||The Preparedness of the Future|
|Second Honorable Mention||Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske, USN||Naval Strategy|
|1917 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|Prize Winner||Commander Lyman A. Cotten, USN||Commerce Destroying in War|
|1916 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|Prize Winner||Lieutenant (jg) H.H. Frost, USN||The Moral Factor in War|
|First Honorable Mention||Lieutenant Commander J.K. Taussig, USN||Naval Personnel|
|Second Honorable Mention||Lieutenant Ridgley Hunt, USN||Education at the U.S. Naval Academy|
|Third Honorable Mention||Commander Dudley W. Knox, USN||Some Underlying Principles of Morale|
|Third Honorable Mention||Lieutenant Commander Thomas L. Johnson, USN||Large vs a Greater Number of Smaller Battleships|
|1915 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|Prize Winner||Commander Dudley W. Knox, USN||The Role of Doctrine in Naval Warfare|
|First Honorable Mention||Lieutenant Commander Thomas D. Parker, USN||An Air Fleet: Our Pressing Naval Want|
|Second Honorable Mention||Ensign H.H. Frost, USN||Tactics|
|Third Honorable Mention||Ensign R.T. Merrill, USN||Defense Against Surprise Torpedo Attack|
|1914 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|Prize Winner||Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox, USN||The Greatest Lesson from Nelson for Today|
|Honorable Mention||Captain John Hood, USN||Naval Policy as It Relates to the Shore Establishment and the Maintenance of the Fleet|
|Honorable Mention||Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox, USN||Old Principles and Modern Applications|
|Honorable Mention||Naval Constructor Richard D. Gatewood, USN||Military Preparedness|
|1913 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|Prize Winner||Commander Harry E. Yarnell, USN||The Greatest Need of the Atlantic Fleet|
|First Honorable Mention||Commander Yates Stirling, USN||Navy Department Organization: A Study of Principles|
|Second Honorable Mention||Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox, USN||Trained Initiative and Unity of Action|
|1912 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|Prize Winner||Lieutenant Ridgely Hunt, USN||Naval Might|
|Honorable Mention||Commander T.D. Parker, USN||Inspection Duty at the Navy Yards|
|1911 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|Prize Winner||Paymaster Charles Conrad, USN||Navy Yard Economy|
|Honorable Mention||Captain B.A. Fiske, USN||Naval Power|
|Honorable Mention||Commodore C.C. Marsh, USN||Wanted - First Aid|
|1910 General Prize Essay Contest Winners|
|Prize Winner||Naval Constructor T.G. Roberts, USN||The Merchant Marine and the Navy|
|Honorable Mention||Lieutenant Lyman A. Cotten, USN||The Naval Strategy of the Russo-Japanese War|