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OXFORD, U.K. (April 11, 2014) U.S. Naval War College professor John Hattendorf (center) and his wife pose for a photo with Yale University professor Paul Kennedy at the Oxford Naval History Conference at All Souls College, Oxford. The conference brought together academics and naval professionals across the globe to celebrate the distinguished career of Hattendorf and his role in expanding the field of maritime history.


From U.S. Naval War College Museum
April 30, 2014

NEWPORT, R.I. – Dipping the flag can be traced back to 1293. However, it was not until the reign of Edward III of England that it gained significance, eventually becoming a gesture of intended friendship and a way of saluting by armed vessels.

The 2014 Oxford Naval History Conference was, metaphorically, such a salute.

Hosted by All Souls College, Oxford, the conference brought together academics and naval professionals across the globe to celebrate the distinguished career of Dr. John B. Hattendorf and his role in expanding the field of maritime history, April 10-12.

Hattendorf is the Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, a position he has now held for 30 years – since 1984. However, his ties to Newport date back to 1964, when he was an ensign earning a commission at the Navy's Officer Candidate School.

As a naval officer during the Vietnam War era, Hattendorf served at sea in three destroyers and earned a commendation for his combat service. Ashore, he served as an officer at the Naval History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and at the NWC.

It was at the NWC, his last active-duty assignment, that proved momentous – he was assigned research assistant and speech writer to Vice Adm. Stansfield Turner, the 37th president of NWC.

Turner had been one of the Navy’s first ‘Rhodes Scholars’ at Oxford University, where he had earned a degree in 1950. Recognizing the potential of his speech writer, Turner encouraged Hattendorf to complete his studies at Oxford’s Pembroke College. Needless to say, he did, earning a Doctor of Philosophy in Modern History in 1979.  And he’s never looked back.

Today, he’s often referred to as “one of the most widely known and well-respected naval historians in the world,” and this year’s Oxford Naval History Conference in dedication of his name signifies just that.

Over 60 participants from 10 countries attended the conference. Some spoke of the range and breadth of Hattendorf’s contributions to the field. Others paid tribute to his assistance and encouragement for their own studies and research. In all, 18 papers and three keynote lectures were presented.

The international aspect of the conference speaks to how the maritime environment binds all countries together, and how Hattendorf’s influence goes far beyond Newport.

Thanks in part to his influence, the field is alive and growing.


Edited and posted by Daniel S. Marciniak