The Challenge:

Write on a topic that makes the naval profession stronger. No subject is too large or too small. For example:

  • Identify opportunities to better use enlisted professionals' talents.
  • Share leadership best practices.
  • Improve tactical doctrine.
  • Identify unfair rules or policies.
  • Provide useful advice or rating knowledge to Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.
  • Help first-tour ensigns and/or second lieutenants do their jobs more effectively.


Open to enlisted personnel—active duty, reserve and retired--from any of the nation's sea services.

Submission Guidelines

  • Essays must be no more than 1,500 words, excluding end notes and sources. Include word count on title page of the essay.
  • Essays are judged in the blind. Do not include author name(s) on title page or within the body of the essay.
  • Submit essay as a Word document at no later than 31 March 2021.
  • Essay must be original and not previously published (online or in print) or being considered for publication elsewhere. 

First Prize: $3,000

Second Prize: $2,000

Third Prize: $1,000

Selection Process

The Proceedings staff members will evaluate every essay and screen the top essays to a special Essay Selection Committee of at least six members who will include two members of the Naval Institute’s Editorial Board and four subject experts. All essays will be judged in the blind—i.e., the Proceedings staff members and judges will not know the authors of the essays. Since we receive so many submissions (more than 100 per month!), notification of acceptance on one of our platforms can take 4-6 months. We will notify you via email if your essay is selected for a prize or for publication.

Announcement of the Winners

Winners will be published in a future issue of Proceedings and recognized at WEST 2022.

Selected Submissions

First Prize
Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Clark, U.S. Navy
Second Prize
Gunnery Sergeant Andrew Guthart, U.S. Marine Corps
Third Prize
Senior Chief Petty Officer Hendrick Simoes, U.S. Navy
Sponsored by
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Previous Winners