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Yellow Admiral

A somewhat dirogatory term from the British navy that describes a post-captain that has been promoted to admiral on retirement such that they never served at that rank.

Before 1864 the British fleet was divided into Red, White, and Blue squadrons, with the admirals taking their rank from their squadronal colour. Blue being junior to white which was in turn junior to red.

A Yellow Admiral, therefore did not fit and thus had no real rank at all.

After the Napoleonic War (1803-1815) there were so many post-captains that the prospects of promotion was very remote. Under the then Current system any officer havign acheived the rank of post-captain was automatically promoted to admiral based on seniority and once a vacancy became available in the flag list. However with the glut of post-captains the Admiralty started to promote post captains off the top of the list, and place them on retirement the following day. This keept things moving and also to ensured that because of the removal from the lists of some post-captains, others for whose future employment as admirals was desired would have a reasonable chance of progressing to that point.

2. A Book by Partick OīBrian in the Aubrey/Maturin series.

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