New Maritime Historical Research center established at Naval War College
NEWPORT, R.I. – President, U.S. Naval War College (NWC), Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley, announced the establishment of the John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research at the school recently.
The Hattendorf Center is charged with studying history for the purpose of educating and informing contemporary practitioners and sea service professionals about the fundamental historical functions of navies and will also coordinate maritime historical programming.
The center will supersede the former Maritime History Center which has been active at the college since its earliest establishment as the college’s “Historical Section” in 1919.
“The new John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research is a unique asset that will provide unity of effort among various historically focused functions and related activities at the Naval War College campus and throughout the world,” said Harley. “More specifically, the Hattendorf Center will be responsible for coordinating the Naval Historical Collection composed of rare books and archival documentary collections here.”
In addition, the Hattendorf Center will also coordinate the historical missions at NWC with those of the Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.
“We will continue our partnerships in producing original documentary research for use in a variety of areas,” added David Kohnen, director of the new center, “including the future history exhibitions and educational programs of the Naval War College Museum.”
As a core mission for NWC, the study of maritime history supports the college’s defined lines of effort to operationalize, futurize, internationalize, and navalize the school.
The center is named for Professor John B. Hattendorf, who served the school for nearly 50 years in uniform and in the classroom.
Hattendorf served in combat in the Vietnam War as a Navy lieutenant, and reported in 1972 to U.S. Naval War College as flag speechwriter, research assistant and instructor under then-president Vice Adm. Stansfield Turner.
With Turner’s encouragement, Hattendorf later earned the Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil.) degree in History at Pembroke College in Oxford University with support from Naval War College. While completing his degree, Hattendorf returned to Naval War College as a member of the civilian strategy faculty in 1977.
He later served as the principal author of the college’s centennial history in 1984. He served as the Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History for 32 years until his formal retirement in the fall of 2016. During his long service at the Naval War College, Hattendorf also served as director, Advanced Research Department, 1986-2003; chairman, Maritime History Department, 2003-2016; and director, Naval War College Museum, 2003-2016.
Through his publications and original documentary research in archives, Hattendorf earned international acclaim for his scholarship in the globally focused field of maritime history. Recognizing these scholarly contributions, the faculty of Oxford University endorsed Hattendorf’s academic promotion from the D.Phil. to the higher Doctor of Letters degree in 2016.
The Hattendorf Center will work in close collaboration with other scholarly institutions, including Princeton University, New Jersey, and the University of London, King’s College, United Kingdom among others.
The Hattendorf Center builds from the foundations of maritime historical scholarship, which have traditionally characterized the work performed at NWC. Since the earliest lectures delivered at NWC in the 1880s, the college’s founder Rear Adm. Stephen B. Luce argued that by “shutting our eyes to the lessons of history . . . is to be unscientific in one's own profession, which, in these days, is to be culpably ignorant, if not criminal.”