Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Someone in a piracy forum started calling himself "commodore" so I decided to look up the title. I remember it from McHale's Navy and, of course, Pirates of the Caribbean.

The term is used for someone between the rank of captain and rear admiral who commands multiple ships in a squadron. It came into use at the end of the 17th century. The US stopped using the rank by the end of the 18th century although it was revived during World War II. The British and other countries kept the rank.

From the viewpoint of the GAoP, commodore was not an actual rank. It was a posting. You remained on the list of captains and you were a commodore only as long as you commanded a squadron. Once your posting changed, you reverted back to captain. apparently the British did this to reduce the number of admirals on the payroll.

By that measure, Norrington was never a real commodore. He only had two ships and he lost the Interceptor. Granted, the other ship was a ship of the line but it was still a single ship. We never saw him commanding a squadron. The only time multiple ships were assembled under a single command was at the end of the third movie under the command of Beckett who was always referred to as "lord".

As far as I can tell, being a commodore did not entitle you to a big hat.

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