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 - 1910 to 1919

1919 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
First Honorable MentionCaptain Reginald R. Belknap, USNMilitary Character
Second Honorable MentionLieutenant Commander B.S. Bullard, (CC), USNSome Reflections on the Three Factors of Battleship Design
1918 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerLieutenant H.H. Frost, USNLetters on Naval Tactics
First Honorable MentionCommander H.O. Rittenhouse, USNThe Preparedness of the Future
Second Honorable MentionRear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske, USNNaval Strategy
1917 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerCommander Lyman A. Cotten, USNCommerce Destroying in War
1916 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerLieutenant (jg) H.H. Frost, USNThe Moral Factor in War
First Honorable MentionLieutenant Commander J.K. Taussig, USNNaval Personnel
Second Honorable MentionLieutenant Ridgley Hunt, USNEducation at the U.S. Naval Academy
Third Honorable MentionCommander Dudley W. Knox, USNSome Underlying Principles of Morale
Third Honorable MentionLieutenant Commander Thomas L. Johnson, USNLarge vs a Greater Number of Smaller Battleships
1915 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerCommander Dudley W. Knox, USNThe Role of Doctrine in Naval Warfare
First Honorable MentionLieutenant Commander Thomas D. Parker, USNAn Air Fleet: Our Pressing Naval Want
Second Honorable MentionEnsign H.H. Frost, USNTactics
Third Honorable MentionEnsign R.T. Merrill, USNDefense Against Surprise Torpedo Attack
1914 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerLieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox, USNThe Greatest Lesson from Nelson for Today
Honorable MentionCaptain John Hood, USNNaval Policy as It Relates to the Shore Establishment and the Maintenance of the Fleet
Honorable MentionLieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox, USNOld Principles and Modern Applications
Honorable MentionNaval Constructor Richard D. Gatewood, USNMilitary Preparedness
1913 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerCommander Harry E. Yarnell, USNThe Greatest Need of the Atlantic Fleet
First Honorable MentionCommander Yates Stirling, USNNavy Department Organization: A Study of Principles
Second Honorable MentionLieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox, USNTrained Initiative and Unity of Action
1912 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerLieutenant Ridgely Hunt, USNNaval Might
Honorable MentionCommander T.D. Parker, USNInspection Duty at the Navy Yards
1911 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerPaymaster Charles Conrad, USNNavy Yard Economy
Honorable MentionCaptain B.A. Fiske, USNNaval Power
Honorable MentionCommodore C.C. Marsh, USNWanted - First Aid
1910 General Prize Essay Contest Winners
Prize WinnerNaval Constructor T.G. Roberts, USNThe Merchant Marine and the Navy
Honorable MentionLieutenant Lyman A. Cotten, USNThe Naval Strategy of the Russo-Japanese War

 
 

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