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Vice-Admiral of the White
Flag Vice Admiral of the White 1805 to 1864.png
Command Flag Vice Admiral of White (1805-1864)
Country  United Kingdom
Service branch Royal Navy
Abbreviation VAW
Next higher rank Vice-Admiral of the Red
Next lower rank Vice-Admiral of the Blue

The Vice-Admiral of the White was a senior rank of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, immediately outranked by the rank Vice-Admiral of the Red (see order of precedence below). Royal Navy officers holding the ranks of commodore, rear admiral, vice admiral and admiral of the fleet are sometimes considered generically to be admirals. From 1688 to 1805, this rank was fifth in order of precedence; after 1805, it was the sixth. In 1864, it was abolished as a promotional rank (pictured opposite is the command flag for a Vice-Admiral of the White).[1]

History[edit | edit source]

The Navy Royal inaugurated squadron colours during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) to subdivide the English fleet into three squadrons. There were three classes of admirals and differentiated by using coloured flags.[2] In 1620 the official Flag ranks of Admiral, Vice Admiral, and Rear Admiral were legally established that arose directly out of the organisation of the fleet into three parts. Admiral of the Fleet as an official flag rank was formally created in 1688.[3]

The Vice-Admiral of the White was a senior rank of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, immediately outranked by the rank Vice-Admiral of the Red (see order of precedence below). Such senior ranks or offices generally qualify the Royal Navy officers holding them to be considered admirals, a category that consists of the ranks of commodore, rear admiral, vice admiral and admiral of the fleet.[4] From 1688 to 1805 the rank of Vice-Admiral of the White was fifth in the order of precedence; after 1805 it was the sixth. In 1864 it was abolished as a promotional rank.[5]

Order of precedence Admirals of the Colour[edit | edit source]

The Navy was divided into three squadrons Red, White and Blue in order of seniority. Admirals were appointed to these squadrons and therefore their rank and squadron split the seniority originally into 9 bands then later 10 with ‘Admiral of the Fleet' as senior to all others.[6]

Seniority was therefore from 1805 to 1864:

  1. Admiral of the Fleet
  2. Admiral of the Red Squadron (rank created in 1805)
  3. Admiral of the White Squadron
  4. Admiral of the Blue Squadron
  5. Vice-Admiral of the Red Squadron
  6. Vice-Admiral of the White Squadron
  7. Vice-Admiral of the Blue Squadron
  8. Rear-Admiral of the Red Squadron
  9. Rear-Admiral of the White Squadron
  10. Rear-Admiral of the Blue Squadron

Seniority was therefore from 1688 to 1805:

  1. Admiral of the Fleet, (rank created in 1688)
  2. Admiral of the White Squadron
  3. Admiral of the Blue Squadron
  4. Vice-Admiral of the Red Squadron
  5. Vice-Admiral of the White Squadron
  6. Vice-Admiral of the Blue Squadron
  7. Rear-Admiral of the Red Squadron
  8. Rear-Admiral of the White Squadron
  9. Rear-Admiral of the Blue Squadron

Admirals without an appointment were colloquially referred to as Yellow Admirals. Ships of the Royal Navy flew the Ensign that coincided with the squadron of their commanding officer.[7]

Former command flag 1625 to 1805[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

  1. List of command flags of the Royal Navy
  1. Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson

Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. Perrin, W. G. (William Gordon) (1922). British flags, their early history, and their development at sea; with an account of the origin of the flag as a national device. Cambridge, England: Cambridge : The University Press. pp. 76–109. https://archive.org/stream/britishflagsthei00perrrich#page/n111/mode/2up. 
  2. "Information sheet no 055: Squadron Colours". The National Museum Royal Navy. 2014. https://www.nmrn-portsmouth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Squadron%20colours.pdf. Retrieved 13 February 2019. 
  3. "Naval Ranks NMRN Portsmouth". Portsmouth, England: The National Museum of the Royal Navy. 2015. https://www.nmrn-portsmouth.org.uk/naval-ranks. Retrieved 13 February 2019. 
  4. Costello, Ray (2012) (in en). Black Salt: Seafarers of African Descent on British Ships. Oxford England: Oxford University Press. p. 222. ISBN 9781781386200. https://books.google.com/books?id=46sgCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA222&lpg=PA222&dq=Royal+Navy+officers+currently+holding+the+ranks+of+rear+admiral,+vice+admiral+and+admiral+of+the+fleet+are+sometimes+considered+generically+to+be+admirals&source=bl&ots=TUjO9_A59p&sig=ACfU3U0VdGB51vIseBOvUK50Kquz1TlhiA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiYw7nt9pzgAhUgTI8KHTELDN8Q6AEwEXoECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q=Royal%20Navy%20officers%20currently%20holding%20the%20ranks%20of%20rear%20admiral%2C%20vice%20admiral%20and%20admiral%20of%20the%20fleet%20are%20sometimes%20considered%20generically%20to%20be%20admirals&f=false. 
  5. Services, Library (2014). "Information sheet no 055 Squadron colours". National Museum of the Royal Navy. https://www.nmrn-portsmouth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Squadron%20colours.pdf. Retrieved 7 January 2019. 
  6. Perrin, W. G. (William Gordon) (1922). British flags, their early history, and their development at sea; with an account of the origin of the flag as a national device. Cambridge, England: Cambridge : The University Press. pp. 76–109. https://archive.org/stream/britishflagsthei00perrrich#page/n111/mode/2up. 
  7. Perrin, W. G. (William Gordon) (1922). British flags, their early history, and their development at sea; with an account of the origin of the flag as a national device. Cambridge, England: Cambridge : The University Press. pp. 76–109. https://archive.org/stream/britishflagsthei00perrrich#page/n111/mode/2up. 

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Perrin, W. G. (William Gordon) (1922). "Flags of Command: Admirals Flags". British flags, their early history, and their development at sea; with an account of the origin of the flag as a national device. Cambridge, England: Cambridge : The University Press.
  2. Squadron Colours" (2014), (PDF). National Museum of the Royal Navy.

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