United States Naval Institute
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|Formation||October 9, 1873|
|Founded at||Annapolis, Maryland|
|Type||501(c)(3) nonprofit organization|
The United States Naval Institute (USNI), based in Annapolis, Maryland, is a private, non-profit (EIN:52-0643040), professional military association that seeks to offer independent, nonpartisan forums for debate of national defense and security issues. In addition to publishing magazines and books, the Naval Institute holds several annual conferences.
Established in 1873, the Naval Institute currently has about 50,000 members, mostly active and retired personnel of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The organization also has members in over 90 countries.
The organization has no official or funding ties to the United States Naval Academy or the U.S. Navy, although it is based on the grounds of the Naval Academy through permission granted by a 1936 Act of Congress.
The Naval Institute's mission is “to provide an independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defense.”
On October 9, 1873, 15 naval officers gathered at the U.S. Naval Academy's Department of Physics and Chemistry building in Annapolis to discuss the implications of a smaller, post-Civil War Navy and other matters of professional interest. The U.S. Naval Institute was established as a forum for the exchange of ideas, to disseminate and advance the knowledge of sea power, and to preserve U.S. naval and maritime heritage. Rear Admiral John L. Worden (former commander of the USS Monitor) served as the first president.
In 1874, the Naval Institute began to accept papers and publish the "proceedings" of its discussions which were distributed to the organization’s members, a practice that continues to this day. Two decades later, the Naval Institute Press was created to publish basic naval guides; it eventually expanded to publish more general-interest titles in history, biography and current affairs.
Having outgrown its offices at Preble Hall, the Naval Institute gave the building to the Naval Academy and, in 1999, renovated a derelict Navy hospital to serve as its new headquarters. The building was named Beach Hall to honor the contributions of Captain Edward L. Beach, Jr. (author of over a dozen books including Run Silent, Run Deep) and his father and namesake, Captain Edward L. Beach, Sr., who had served as the Institute's secretary-treasurer.
Publications and products
The monthly magazine Proceedings is the Naval Institute's flagship product. Published since 1874, it is one of the oldest continuously published magazines in the United States. Issues include articles from military professionals and civilian experts, historical essays, book reviews, full-color photography, and reader commentary. Roughly a third are written by active duty and active reserve personnel, a third by retired military, and a third by civilians. Proceedings also frequently carries feature articles by Secretaries of Defense, Secretaries of the Navy, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and top leaders of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The magazine has published controversial articles on contentious issues; moreover, military brass have been known to block certain articles from being submitted to the journal. For example, in 1962, DoD officials prevented a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel from sending to Proceedings an article about a 1949 proposal to merge the Marines' aviation units into the Air Force.
Naval History magazine was first published in 1987 to explore the role of sea power in U.S. history. Currently a bimonthly publication, the richly illustrated magazine’s contributors have included historians David McCullough and James M. McPherson; former sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen such as Ernest Borgnine, Gene Hackman, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.; and newsmen Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw.
The Naval Institute Press was founded in 1898 and publishes about 80 books a year. Its twice-yearly catalog includes works on history, biography, professional military education, and occasional works of popular fiction, such as Tom Clancy's first novel, The Hunt for Red October and Stephen Coonts’ Flight of the Intruder. Among the professional development titles are The Bluejacket's Manual, Naval Shiphandling, The Naval Officer's Guide, The Marine Officer’s Guide, and The Coast Guardsman’s Manual. The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World and The Naval Institute Guide to Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet are popular reference books with the military, media and maritime enthusiasts.
Launched in December 2008, the blog is another forum for debate. Contributors have included former NATO Supreme Commander Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN (ret) and Admiral Thad Allen, the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard.
Launched in February 2012, USNI News provides breaking news and insight on emerging issues.
In 1985, the Institute began to hold conferences, open to the public, to foster discussion of defense-related topics. The largest of these, are held in San Diego and Washington, D.C. The conferences often feature the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, as well as other leaders.
Americans at War
In 2007, USNI produced Americans At War, a series of video interviews with U.S. combat veterans of conflicts dating to World War I. Former President George H. W. Bush, Senators Bob Dole, Daniel Inouye, Bob Kerrey, and other men and women described how combat changed their lives. The series was broadcast on Public Broadcasting Service television stations nationwide.
The U.S. Naval Institute holds one of the world’s largest private collections of military photographs: more than 450,000 images of people, ships and aircraft from all branches of the armed forces. The photographs date from the American Civil War to the present.
The U.S. Naval Institute's Oral History program captures and preserves the reminiscences of key Navy and Coast Guard figures such as US Army Air Force Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, Adm. Arleigh Burke and Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. The Naval Institute records a series of interviews covering the life story of each participant. The interviews are then transcribed, annotated, indexed, and bound. Since the inception of the program in 1969, more than 230 bound volumes have been completed, and interviews have been recorded to produce dozens more.
The Naval Institute maintains an extensive library of books on naval subjects. The collection contains many rare volumes on obscure maritime topics, so it serves a valuable resource for researchers and students.
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The institute's notable current and former members include:
- Thomas Edison, American inventor and businessman
- William "Bull" Halsey, U.S. Navy Fleet Admiral
- John Lehman, Former Secretary of the Navy
- John A. Lejeune, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General and 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps; known as the "greatest of all Leathernecks"
- Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S. Navy flag officer, geostrategist and historian
- Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy Fleet Admiral and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas (CinCPOA), for U.S. and Allied air, land, and sea forces during World War II
- Colin Powell, American statesman and a retired four-star General in the United States Army
- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
- Association of the United States Army
- Air Force Association
- Marine Corps Association
- Coast Guard Foundation
- Norman Polmar