We are bedazzled by Razzle Dazzle! I am very fond of warship grey. And I like Canadian warship grey, too, the “grey to match Halifax fog.” However, nothing is quite like Dazzle on a warship…
Invented by the artist Norman Wilkinson while he was serving on patrol in the English Channel in May 1917, dazzle camouflage’s purpose was confuse rather than conceal; the paint job made it difficult for the enemy to estimate the type, size, speed and heading of the painted vessel, rendering visual rangefinders ineffective for naval artillery.
Initially meant for merchant ships during WWI, the Navy quickly made use of the dazzle camouflage for “warships employed in convoy escort duty, blockade patrol, and those such as seaplane tenders, which often had to proceed at very slow speeds, and in the case of blockade ships, to remain stopped for long periods. These last were sitting targets for U-boats.
“By early 1918 dazzle pattern was being worn by over four thousand British merchant ships and approximately four hundred Royal Navy vessels of various types. It was worn by ships of other countries also, and was officially adopted by the American Navy in 1918.” – A. Raven
“Dazzle’s effectiveness is not certain. The British Admiralty concluded it had no effect on submarine attacks, but boosted crew morale. It also increased the morale of people not involved in fighting; hundreds of wonderfully colored ships in dock was nothing ever seen before or since.” - wiki
The Development of Naval Camouflage, by Alan Raven, is a very thorough piece in six chapters, complete with the result of years of research in documenting colors used by merchant ships, and the navies of Britain and the United States. He even includes excerpts from the logs of befuddled enemy ships. However, it is hard to read, being white type on blue, and is chopped up into many pages. I have collated it into one file and formatted it into something easier to read, if anyone is interested. (Courtesy of Plastic Ship Modeler Magazine issue #96/3.)
I am currently working on a little ferry in NYHarbor, and my shifts are afternoons and evenings, saturdays and sundays: just when the cruise ships and party yachts come out. Some of them have been featured on UglyShips, and they are eyesores. Tugster recommended that they be Dazzled! Here, then, not to confuse, nor conceal, but to liven up their dreary silhouettes—and to boost our morales, those of us on bowwatch—are the new! improved! versions of five of the ugliest vessels in NYHarbor:
“Where’s the cleat? where’s the line? WHERE’S the deckhand?”
My favorite artist: Sister Mary Corita! She’s done tanks, she should do tankers.
So many passengers vessels are lemons. Uglyships, that bastion of good taste, highlighted a few of our harbor’s tugs. I say there is no such thing as an ugly NYHarbor tug. We have eccentric ones, but fugly? Nah, fuggedaboutit.