Posted by JW on March 13, 1998 at 06:36:48:
In response to Clarification, written by Ken on March 12, 1998 at 07:51:07
] ] Admirals were designated as of the Red, White or Blue Squadrons for active service, and you moved through them in order of seniority again. If you were really hopeless, but had survivrd into the promotion zone, you were Admiral of the Yellow--but you kept the pay!.
] The "Yellow" fleet was an unofficial designation. The Admiralty got smarter and smarter about not letting obviously unfit admirals command fleets, but there was no real way to get them off the navy rolls. So superannuated or incompetent admirals were simply left on the beach without commands. But if you wanted or needed to promote a deserving captain, you first had to promote all the captains senior to him on the list, even if you doubted their abilities to command a fleet. Not infrequently this would mean a mass promotion of officers at the top of the list, in order to get to the one officer that you did want to give a command to. The newly created admirals ahead of this lucky fellow simply weren't given commands, though in theory they were perfectly capable of commanding something. Gradually, these admirals were spoken of as being in the "yellow" fleet. I don't remember if there is a non-obvious reason for the color--for admirals of the red, white, or blue fleets, they hoisted broad pennants of the appropriate color from their flagships (which is where that word comes from in the first place).
JW: I think the reasons were tactical, before the development of efficient signalling.
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