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How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for the Naval Academy

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Civilians don’t require letters of recommendation to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, but they must have a congressional or vice presidential nomination. U.S. Navy enlisted personnel who wish to enter the U.S. Naval Academy through the Seaman-to-Admiral-21 Program must have a nomination from the Secretary of the Navy plus a letter of recommendation from their commanding officer extolling the applicant's military virtues, physical fitness, likelihood of academic success and potential as a commissioned officer.

Attachments First

The applicant’s commanding officer attaches a copy of the pre-application the sailor submitted to the academy. Usually, this pre-application is completed at least a year in advance of the sailor’s departure for the academy. Other attachments to the letter of recommendation include a request -- that will go up the chain of command -- to the Secretary of the Navy for the secretary’s nomination to the academy, copies of the sailor’s high school and college transcripts, plus a copy of the SAT or ACT college entrance examination scores.

Accurate in All Respects

The first part of the letter states that the commander has investigated the information in the additional documentation and found it accurate and complete. It also says the applicant meets the academy’s physical requirements, including height and weight. The final statement in the second section of the commanding officer’s recommendation says that the applicant has no conditions that medically disqualify the applicant.

Sailor's Job Performance

The next section of the commander’s recommendation tells the reader about the applicant’s military performance, including their current activities, their supervisory skills and their current rating -- their job name and description -- and their pay grade within that job description. For example, this section might explain that the applicant is an electrician’s mate working on shipboard electrical systems. If the applicant is an E-4, their rating is electrician’s mate third class.

I'm Willing to Work With...

The commander’s recommendation then evaluates the probability that the applicant is capable of serving as a commissioned officer. The commander expresses the likelihood of success by the commander’s statement that he’ll willingly accept the applicant as a commissioned officer within his own command. Following this, the commander also evaluates the applicant’s academic potential based on the service and civilian schools the applicant has completed, any shipboard education or off-duty study courses the applicant has pursued and the applicant's SAT or ACT scores, plus any other information the commander feels is pertinent to the application. The commander then signs the recommendation.


Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.