NavyCon 2020: Navies, Science Fiction, and Great Power Competition

By Claude Berube

Three years ago, Jerry Hendrix, Mark Vandroff, CDR Salamander, and I were reminiscing about old sci-fi shows and their navy traits. Half-jokingly, I suggested we put together a science fiction convention focused on navies. And then it happened. The result was the first NavyCon in 2017 which was a one-day event held at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum.

At its conclusion, I received comments from the audience and emails from strangers asking when the next event would be held. We won’t wait three years for the next one. This event is intended to take a serious (as well as sometimes light-hearted) approach in understanding how science fiction might help us think differently about navies of today or the near future. Science fiction is often unbound by conventional thinking. The technologies and platforms we find commonplace might have been considered fantastical just a century or two ago. It is human imagination that envisioned going to the moon and human ingenuity that made it happen. It is that same creativity and inspiration that will move us forward together.

Thank you to the presenters, special guests, and all the people who made this happen. I hope you enjoy this NavyCon.

See the NavyCon 2020 Program Guide here, and the full video replay and a listing of specific presentations below.

00:00-02:05 CDR Claude Berube, USNR, PhD
Director, US Naval Academy Museum

Opening remarks

02:06-07:25 CDR BJ Armstrong
Associate Chair, Department of History, U.S. Naval Academy

“The U.S. Navy and SciFi: From the Civil War to Midway”

07:26-09:04 Message from LT Kayla Barron
Naval Academy Class of 2010, NASA Astronaut

09:05-21:20 Keynote: Major General Mick Ryan
Commander, Australian Defence College
“Science Fiction and its Utility for the National Security Community”

21:21-30:02 CDR Claude Berube, USNR, PhD
Director, U.S Naval Academy Museum
“How the Federation Overcame the Shipbuilding Gap before the Defense of Coppelius in
‘Star Trek Picard’”

30:03-42:28 Cory Hollon
U.S. Air Force
“The Kaiju Should Have Won: Force Deployment and Strategy in Pacific Rim”

42:33-43:52 Message from Dr. Kori Schake
Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies
American Enterprise Institute

44:06-57:40 August Cole
Co-author of “Ghost Fleet” and “Burn-In”
“When A Robot Has The Helm”

Standalone Video Jennifer Marland
Curator, NSWC-Carderock
“A Navy is Essential for your Planet: Wars Between Barrayar and Cetaganda in Lois
McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosiverse” 

1:03:15-1:07:17 Message from CDR Salamander 

1:14:55-1:26:18 Clara Engle
Department of Commerce
“Babylon 5 and International Relations Theory”

1:26:45-1:41:37 Randy Papadopoulos
Historian for the Secretary of the Navy
“Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Why Space Warfare will be about Fleets”

1:41:47-1:43:38 Message from Hugh Hewitt

1:43:52-1:59:40 MAJ Thomas Harper, JAG, USAR
“It’s a Trap! The Intersection of the Battle of Endor & the Law of Armed Conflict”

2:00:02-2:12:08 Jonathan Bratten
Command Historian/Maine National Guard
“Perils of Joint Command: Imperial Disaster at Endor”

2:12:37-2:24-54 Ian Boley
PhD candidate, History, Texas A&M University
“Sidewinders, Sunbeams, and Negaspheres: Skunkworks and Rapid Innovation in the
Lensman Series”

2:25:21-2:38:40 CAPT Jerry Hendrix, USN (ret.) PhD
Vice President, The Telemus Group
“Honorverse: Revolutions in Military Affairs and the Weapons Development Board”

2:38:53-2:41:55 Message from Congressman Mike Gallagher

2:42:49-2:56-53 David Larter
Reporter, Defense News
“Alien and the Operators”

2:57:00-3:06:21 CAPT Mark Vandroff, USN (ret.)
Deputy Assistant to the President & Senior Director for Defense Policy, National Security Council
“Engineering for Great Power Competition”

03:06:35-3:10:27 Message from author David Weber

03:10:40-03:31:10 Christopher Weuve
“Aircraft Carriers in Space!”

03:31:25-3:46:05 CDR Phil Pournelle, USN (ret.)
“Traveler’s Trillion Credit Squadron Game and Future Fleet Architecture”

03:46:21-3:47:05 CDR Claude Berube, USNR, PhD 
Director, U.S. Naval Academy Museum
Closing Remarks

Commander Claude Berube, USNR, PhD, teaches history at the U.S. Naval Academy, is the Director of the Naval Academy Museum, and is a former Senate staffer and defense contractor. His next two books will be released in the next year. The views above are the author’s alone and not necessarily reflect those of the Navy or Naval Academy.

Featured Image: “Star Wars: Battle of Coruscant” by Dave Seeley via Artstation.

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