General Prize Essay Contest

Funded By Andrew and Barbara Taylor & the Crawford Taylor Foundation

Enter the Naval Institute’s General Prize Essay Contest

The Challenge: The General Prize Essay Contest invites you to "dare to write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defense." Participate in this open annual essay contest to discuss the most compelling issues, ideas, and solutions. There is no restriction on topic. All essays are judged in the blind by the Naval Institute's Edditorial Board composed of serving Sea Service professionals.

Past Winners: Since 1879, the Naval Institute’s flagship essay contest has been the General Prize. Past winners include: CDR Alfred Thayer Mahan (1879); ENS W.I. Chambers (1884); LT E. L. Beach (1903); RADM Stephen B. Luce (1905); LT Ernest J. King (1909); LCDR J. K. Taussig (1916); LTJG Ernest Eller (1930); LCDR (later Senator) Sam Stratton (1952/1954); CAPT Wayne Hughes (1981); LCDR James Stavridis (1984); CAPT Linton Brooks (1987); Ron O’Rourke (1988); LT Niel Golightly (1990); LT Christopher Abel, USCG; Capt Jon Hoffman, USMC (1991); CDR James Winnefeld Jr. (1994); LT David Adams (1997); LT Thomas R. Williams (2000).

2015 Winners: LCDR Jared M. Wilhelm, USN; LCDR Brendan R. Stickles, USN; FLTCM (SW/AW) Paul A. Kingsbury, USN.

Prior Publication: We will assume that your essay has not been previously published (online or in print) or being considered for publication elsewhere, unless otherwise notified by you.  All previously published essays are ineligible.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Email essays (preferably as a Microsoft Word attachment) by 31 December 2016 to:
  • Include General Prize Essay Contest Submission on subject line of email
  • Include word count on title page of essay but do not include your name on title page or within the essay
  • Provide separate attachment to include biography and complete contact information -- i.e., work, home, and cell phone numbers; and home mailing address

Selection Process: The Proceedings staff members will evaluate every essay and screen the top essays to the Editorial Board for judging.  All essays will be judged in the blind -- i.e., the Proceedings staff members and judges will not know the authors of the essays.

Announcement of the Winners: The winning essays will be announced and published in the April 2017 issue of Proceedings. All prize winners receive one-year memberships in the U.S. Naval Institute.

About Naval Institute Essay Contests

Essay contests have been central to the work of the Naval Institute for well over one hundred years. They directly fulfill the Institute’s educational mission by encouraging writing on issues of concern to the Sea Services. They provide thought-provoking articles that spur ongoing discussion of these same issues, not only in Naval Institute media, print and digital, but also in other leading defense and national security forums. 

All winners published in April 2017 Proceedings.
First Prize $6,000 Second Prize $3,000 Third Prize $2,000
Prize winners are honored as part of a ceremony during the Institute's Annual Meeting, or at some other event to be determined by USNI.
The contest is open to all persons eligible for membership (including those already members) in the Institute.
3,500 words maximum (excludes footnotes/endnotes/sources).

Past Contests

2015 General Prize Essay Contest

Lieutenant Commander Jared M. Wilhelm, U.S. Navy

2014 General Prize Essay Contest

Lieutenant Commander Wolf Melbourne, U.S. Navy

2013 General Prize Essay Contest

Captain Jim Howe, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired), and Lieutenant Jim Dolbow, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve

2012 General Prize Essay Contest

Captain Gerard D. Roncolato, U.S. Navy (Retired)

2011 General Prize Essay Contest

Dr. Milan Vego

2010 General Prize Essay Contest

Captain Victor G. Addison Jr., U.S. Navy

2009 General Prize Essay Contest

Kirk Ross

2008 General Prize Essay Contest

Captain Charity Winters, U.S. Air Force


Conferences and Events

WEST 2017

Tue, 2017-02-21 - Thu, 2017-02-23

San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

Tuesday, 21 February - Thursday, 23 February 2017 Co-Sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute. Registration...

2017 U.S. Naval Institute Member Event

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From the Press

Taped Oral History Interview

Tue, 2017-02-21

Arnold L. Punaro

Meet the Authors & Book Signings

Tue, 2017-02-21

Admiral James Stavridis

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