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History & Campus

Our institution has a rich history, and it has continuously evolved to prepare U.S. and international navies for the ever-changing political, economic, and social conditions of our nation and world.

Establishing the Navy’s Home of Thought

The U.S. Naval War College, the oldest institution of its kind, was founded in 1884 by Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce. His leadership and vision laid a solid foundation for more than a century of professional development and research—and it all started with desire to better educate the fleet.

In 1861, while Luce was serving on the faculty at the U.S. Naval Academy, he discovered there was no existing text for seamanship—so he wrote one, and it became the U.S. Navy’s standard for more than 50 years.

Later, as Luce rose in rank and his breadth of command—in peace and at war—expanded, he noticed other crucial components missing from the Navy’s training and education. For example, he saw there was not yet a procedure to exercise naval tactics nor a unit assigned to examine experimental tactical ideas, so he created both. Then, in 1883, after he recognized a need for preparatory programs for enlisted recruits, Luce established the Navy’s first recruit training station at Newport’s Coasters Harbor Island.

Perhaps most important, though, was Luce’s epiphany that there was no place in the Navy to study the central issue for a professional officer in the armed forces: war. Along with this, technology and science was advancing rapidly—it was a time of “revolution in military affairs”—and Luce knew that learning about metallurgy, chemistry, physics of weapons, and other advances was critical to success in modern warfare.

Luce proposed to the U.S. Department of the Navy his idea of institution dedicated to the advanced study of war. On October 6, 1884, Secretary of the Navy William E. Chandler signed General Order 325 establishing the U.S. Naval War College, bringing Luce’s vision to life.

A Timeline: NWC through the Years

The early years: creating a curriculum

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Early 20th century

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Post World War II

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21st century

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On the Horizon

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Our Campus

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News, Media, & Events


What Is China Thinking with Its Newest Plane Design?

Sep 18, 2017
The National Interest
Article Publication

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Naval Station Newport

The U.S. Naval War College is located at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport, home to more than 42 naval and defense commands and activities. For more information on Naval Station Newport please visit out site.

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College Leadership

The President of the Naval War College is accountable directly to the Chief of Naval Operations, who establishes the College's mission, provides general guidelines and appropriated funds for its operation, and selects the president of the Naval War College.

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