CNO Essay Contest: How Do You Think History Can Help Us Today?

CNO Essay Contest: How Do You Think History Can Help Us Today?

by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood, Naval History and Heritage Command
Stripes Okinawa

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- "How can history inform our maritime strategy today?" Your answer to that question may be the basis for an entry in the Chief of Naval Operations 2017 Naval History Essay Contest, recently announced in NAVADMIN 024/17.

According to the message, CNO Adm. John Richardson directed the contest to further understanding of how lessons from history inform the Navy's way ahead.

It should inspire "insight and dialog from across the widest spectrum of academic, operational, military and civilian personnel both from within the Naval Services and those with a sincere interest in the history of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard."

History's impact on the modern age can be a pretty broad question, so essay entries should be able to cut across an enormous array of answers. Maybe Capt. John Paul Jones or Adm. Chester Nimitz's leadership is inspirational as a model when discharging duties; or perhaps the successful effort, in the face of overwhelming odds, of the crew of guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) in saving their ship after it struck a mine is emboldening to hone damage control abilities.

But entrants don't have to write about specific subjects like those. One can also think more strategically, such as how the Navy has projected power differently across time. Unintended consequences are also fair game. If it has to do with history, today and the sea services -- write about it!

"We're looking for subjects that study the history of the U.S. Navy, for sure, [as well as] any other historical, maritime history that relates to our maritime strategy," said Cmdr. Ryan Ahler, Naval History and Heritage Command's (NHHC) assistant director for the Director's Action Group. "I think this is a really good opportunity for us to take a look at the long history of lessons learned and apply them to the present and how we maintain maritime superiority."

The essay contest is open to professional and amateur historians alike, whether they're in the Navy or not, whether they're U.S. citizens or not. Everyone has a voice and everyone will think of something different to write about which can help the Navy continue to be the best in the world. If thinking of a subject becomes a problem, NHHC's website serves as a reference for interesting subjects and existing research.

"The Navy is really looking for entries from a full spectrum of writers, not just professional historians and people who do this for a living, but also for entries from those on the deckplates," said Ahler. "The hardest part will be getting amateur historians and Sailors out in the fleet to submit, but honestly I think that's where a lot of the best stuff will come from."

If a little extra motivation is needed, winners will receive a monetary prize depending on where they place -- $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second, and $1,500 for third. See the message for additional prizes:

The selections will be screened by the United States Naval Institute (USNI) and the finalists will be presented to a joint committee comprised of senior staff from USNI (1 person), the United States Naval Academy (1), the Naval War College (1), the Naval History and Heritage Command (1), the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (2), and one distinguished naval historian from outside the Navy.

Submissions cannot exceed 3,500 words (excluding footnotes/endnotes/sources), nor can an entry contain the author's name. All submissions will be judged blindly, so in addition to the essay, a separate attachment including a biography and complete contact information is required. Submission packages should be emailed to with the subject heading "CNO 2017 Naval History Essay Contest."

For more details, see the NAVADMIN or go to USNI's point of contact in this matter is Fred Rainbow and he can be reached via phone at (410) 295-1092, and via email at

All entries are to be submitted no later than June 30. While the deadline is a few months away, it's never too early to submit an entry.

The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products which reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through the nation's history, and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, nine museums, USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.

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