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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, 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 to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to global security". The Institute also has a Vision of "[g]iving voice to those who seek the finest Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard."
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.
In 1992, the Naval Institute Foundation, Inc., was established to stabilize the organization's funding.
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 February 2012, USNI News provides breaking news and insight on emerging issues. It is a free, daily (Monday - Friday) news service. USNI News produced extensive coverage of the investigation, proceedings and recommendations for improvement generated by the Fat Leonard scandal.
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 General Jimmy Doolittle, Admirals Arleigh Burke and 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 institute's notable current and former members include:
- Thomas Edison, inventor and businessman
- William Halsey Jr., fleet admiral
- John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy
- John A. Lejeune, marine lieutenant general
- Alfred Thayer Mahan, naval flag officer, geostrategist, and historian
- Chester W. Nimitz, fleet admiral
- Colin Powell, statesman and a retired army general
- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U.S. president
- Air Force Association
- Association of the United States Army
- Coast Guard Foundation
- Marine Corps Association
- Norman Polmar
- "Mission and Vision | U.S. Naval Institute". www.usni.org. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
- "Higher-Ups Ban Article on Marines". Eugene Register-Guard. UPI. January 19, 1962.
- Paying the Price: The Hidden Cost of the ‘Fat Leonard’ Investigation, U.S. Naval Institute, Sam LaGrone, January 24, 2019, Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- Newman, R. (2017). Ghosts of the Civil War. Woodbury: Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 131. ISBN 9780738754253.