General Prize Essay Contest

Funded By Andrew and Barbara Taylor

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);  LT E. L. Beach (1903); RADM Stephen B. Luce (1905); LT Ernest J. King (1909); LCDR (later Senator) Sam Stratton (1952/1954); CAPT Wayne Hughes (1981); LCDR James Stavridis (1984); LT Christopher Abel, USCG; Capt Jon Hoffman, USMC (1991); CDR James Winnefeld Jr. (1994); LT David Adams (1997); LT Thomas R. Williams (2000); FLTCM Paul A. Kingsbury, (2015).

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

Submission Guidelines:

  • Email essays as a Microsoft Word attachment by 31 December 2017 to: [email protected]
  • Include General Prize Essay Contest in 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 May 2018 issue of Proceedings. Note: Some entrants will be awarded a one-year membership 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.



Winners announced and published in the May 2018 Proceedings. Note: Some entrants will be awarded a one-year membership in the USNI.
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

2017 General Prize Essay Contest Funded by Andrew and Barbara Taylor

Captain Dale C. Rielage, U.S. Navy

2016 General Prize Essay Contest Funded by Andrew and Barbara Taylor & the Crawford Taylor Foundation

Lieutenant (jg) Daniel Stefanus, USN

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


Conferences and Events

2018 Coast Guard Academy Conference

Tue, 2018-09-11

As part of The U.S. Coast Guard Academy 2018- 2019 Leadership Lecture Series The U.S. Naval Institute presents Disaster Will...

The New China Challenge

View All

From the Press

21 August - Lecture

Tue, 2018-08-21

22 August - Author Talk

Wed, 2018-08-22

Allen D. Boyer

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

As an independent forum for over 140 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