Ink’s and Admirals

You will all at sometime in your careers noticed different coloured ink being used by Commodores and Admirals when responding to correspondence or signing their names.  My recollection is that Commodore’s wrote in Green ink and Admiral’s wrote in Red.  Can anyone else add to this or am I colour blind?

From the comments received I thing the answer is as follows:

In the days of the Naval Board the First Naval Member (CNS) signed in Green, the Second Naval Member in Red and the Third Naval Member in Purple. Later CNS signed in Green and DCNS in Red and Comauck for local issues Green.  This was not prescribed rather a custom and there will be many exceptions.  Thanks Karl M for the clarification.

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15 Responses to Ink’s and Admirals

  1. Rob says:

    You are correct. I think it was a custom where the idea was to highlight quickly the seniority of person sending the correspondence.

    • Mole says:

      Commodores used Red got a real bollicking from L.M. TEMPERO when I had to request him to sign his expense claim using Blue/Black ink as he was not entitled to sign a Treasury Form in Red and if he was to become an Admiral later on he couldn’t use green either as these colours were solely reserved for Treasury Auditors and Inspectors I was supported by Cdr Bell the Base SO who backed me up. Glad he did as I had only been a POWTR for two days and it was hard not to see my hooks going out the window.

  2. Dave Wistrand says:

    Sub hunting with first female commander of major Royal Navy warship
    During the months away Cdr West will mostly be found in her favourite spot on the bridge, writing on bundles of paperwork in red ink – the colour always used by Royal Navy captains – or touring the decks chatting to her sailors. (Copy & Paste from Mirror News)
    But on Otago in the 70’s sure RT Hale used Green

  3. Jim D says:

    Then, of course, there was the blue underlined in red…

    • Mole says:

      The red underline was in your DO’s CONF Report to signify that he had read the comments to you. I normally saw these when I had to send off a Warrant for approval.

  4. Frank Rands says:

    I have posting letters signed by Fred Wilson in RED and I believe Peter McHaffie may have broken the chain when he went from Comauck to Naval Staff and took his GREEN pen with him. Any comment Tony Bullock on this subject?

    • Mole says:

      RA Teagle signed my WO’s Parchment in ’89 when he was CNS well before Peter M and I remember Fred Wilson using Red when he was DCNS.

  5. gunther says:

    damn. I used to use any colour that was available, or working.

  6. Chook says:

    You Gunther?? working?? please don’t use your name and working in the same sentence!!! it’s hypocrisy…..

  7. gunther says:

    chook…the working means a working pen…

  8. Tony Bullock says:

    There was never anything set down in NIs or other RNZN instructions on the use of colour by senior officers. It seems to have been/be very much a matter of custom. As Dave Wistrand notes, Richard T Hale used green when he was CO OTAGO 1967-69. I recall that the Commodore tried to get him to stop, but without success! (I was Richard T’s Secretary)

    The quick research I have done provides a little bit of a pattern, with some exceptions.
    – As I’ve said, Hale used green when he was just a CO
    – I have a letter from 1987 signed by Lin Tempero as CNS, in Red
    – Ian Hunter signed a book for me in green in 1991 when he was CNS
    – CNSs have been signing the ‘Yours Aye’ page of Navy Today in green since colour was introduced to that page around 2000.
    – in the RN, COs appear to be using Red internally.
    – the Indian Navy did have written guidance (as did the Indian Public Service until recently). Green was used by the most senior Flag Officer on a Station. Red was used by the CNS, but also internally by heads of organisations – which may reflect the practice of RN COs using red within their ships. (incidentally, a Flag Officer’s barge in Commonwealth navies was usually green – maybe that connects with the use of green ink?)

    I vaguely recall (but can’t vouch for accuracy) that when I was in Navy Office in 1969/70, the CNS used Green (or was it Red?), 2nd Naval Member used Red (or Green?), and 3rd Naval Member used purple(?). The Navy Secretary used Black. As you can see, my memory is unclear! A possible explanation for the use of colour in Navy Office may be that it made it very easy to see which senior officers had seen a minute sheet/paper and what their comments/directions were. This was often useful when multiple staff comments were spread over many minute sheet pages.

    Sorry I can’t be more precise.

  9. Alan Peck says:

    The custom was (is?) that the boss used green and the next in line used red. This was so that staff instantly recognised who the writer was. In Naval Staff CNS used green and DCNS used red. In Auckland, Comauck used green and the Chief of Staff used red. It was a custom borrowed from the RN and not used by the other services nor was it used by defence central.

  10. Jasper Robertson says:

    CNS used red. DCNS used green. One did not shuffle any document with those inks to the bottom of the heap.
    When I was posted to NZNB MSO I was fond of using a fountain pen with a sepia ink (kind of a reddish brown). Chief Yeoman Paddy Harvey informed me in no uncertain terms that as a LRD I had a long way to go before I was entitled to use that fountain pen.
    Or I think that is what he said, his accent was so broad. The only time I truly understood him was one day when I was copping one and was saying “Yes Chief, Yes Chief”. Five by five I got the message “You are supposed to be saying @#$%^&* NO”. Yes Chief.

  11. Karl Moen says:

    I can see I need t get my red pen out. Tony Bullock is correct in that the days of the Naval Board the First Naval Member (CNS) signed in Green, the Second Naval Member in Red and the Third Naval Member in Purple. Later CNS signed in Green and DCNS in Red and Comauck for local issues Green but as it was not prescribed rather a custom there will be many exceptions. I do recall the Auditors losing a battle with Admiral McKenzie over the issue of who could sign what in what colour.

  12. Alan Peck says:

    Greetings Karl. Yes, the Flag Officer signed in green. Which also explains the green letterhead.

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