CNO Naval History Essay Contest

Sponsored with General Dynamics

The Challenge:

The Sea Services have a rich history. There is much to be learned from history on multiple fronts—people, battles, strategy, tactics, leadership, values, traditions. While the CNO invites you to write on a naval historical topic of your choice, your essay should relate in some way to establishing and maintaining maritime superiority in today's environment. The essay should provide your readers with a lesson learned from history that can be applied to today.

Prior Publication: Your essay must be original, not been previously published (online or in print) or being considered for publication elsewhere.

Prizes: (Two categories)

Professional Historians: U.S. and international professional historians (historian jobs including history museum curators, history teachers/professors, PhDs, published history authors.

$5,000 — First Prize

$2,500 — Second Prize

$1,500 — Third Prize

Rising Historians: U.S. Sea Service-wide active, reserve, retired, and civilians not included in above.

$5,000 — First Prize

$2,500 — Second Prize

$1,500 — Third Prize

Note: All winners will be recognized by CNO at an event at the U.S. Naval Academy in the Fall of 2018. Winners of the Professional Historians Category will be published in Naval History magazine and online with Naval History and Heritage Command. Winners of the Rising Historians Category will be published in Proceedings and online with NHHC.  Other essays may be published in Naval History or Proceedings or online by the NHHC.

Judging: This contest is judged in the blind. The Judging Committee will be comprised of senior staff from the U.S. Naval Institute, U.S. Naval Academy, Naval War College, Naval History and Heritage Command, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and one distinguished naval historian from outside the Navy.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Word count: 3,500 words maximum (excludes footnotes/endnotes/sources)
  • Email essays to [email protected] by 30 June 2018
  • Include word count on title page of essay but do not include your name on title page or within essay
  • Provide separate attachment to include biography and complete contact information— i.e., work, home, and cell phone numbers; and home mailing address
  • For more details about this contest please visit and

Memberships: All prize winners are awarded one-year memberships in the U.S. Naval Institute and one-year subscriptions to Naval History magazine.  Some entrants will be awarded one-year memberships in the Naval Institute.

Note: Additional information about this contest can be found on the Naval History and Heritage Command website -- 

About Naval Institute Essay Contests

Essay contests have been central to the work of the Naval Institute for more than 130 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.



Past Contests

2018 CNO Naval History Essay Contest Sponsored with General Dynamics

Rear Admiral James Goldrick, Royal Australia Navy (Retired)

2017 CNO Naval History Essay Contest Sponsored with General Dynamics

Lieutenant Commander Joel Holwitt, U.S. Navy


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