Friday, October 9, 2020

Dazzle patterns for Atlantic ships, but not for Pacific

WILL NOT USE CAMOUFLAGE: Zebra Stripes Not to Be Put on Vessels in Coastwise Trade, in The Oregon Daily Journal (Portland OR), August 25, 1918, p. 28—

Ships sailing from Portland for Pacific Coast points and which are not destined for the war zone will not have to wear the zebra stripes of camouflage, according to recent orders of the [US] government. The camoufleurs will be required to paint every ship intended to go the Atlantic, however, with the futuristic designs.

USS Western Maid (1918)

The United States Navy Department is to prescribe color and design of camouflage rather than the Emergency Fleet Corporation’s district camoufleur, says the Emergency Fleet News. Designs will be prepared and each district will use the type most suited to the style of ship to be painted.


The news article above might at first be misleading, as it sounds as if "dazzle camouflage" was applied to very few ships at Pacific Coast shipyards. But in fact some of the most striking examples of WWI camouflaged ships were built and their camouflage applied at West Coast ports. Many of these ships (those intended for service in the Atlantic) were given names that bore the words "West" or "Western." The USS Western Maid (as shown above) was built by the Northwest Steel Company at Portland OR, with its camouflage applied by Emergency Fleet camouflage artists, using a scheme provided by US Navy camoufleurs in Washington DC.


Camouflage application process

Disruptive camouflage patterns

Further information