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Beyond the Digital Threshold - Submarine Camouflage Measures

(April 9, 2006, Vancouver, B.C.) A few weeks ago the British revealed they were testing a Blue paint on one of their submarines to mitigate the visual impact the typical black paint has on a submarine. Black it turns out is one of the most visible colors:

From Defense Industry Daily (Reference at end of paper)

...Britain's submarines are spending less time in the North Atlantic, where subs spent most of the Cold War, and more time in the brighter, lighter waters around the Middle East and Indian Ocean. Although nuclear submarines don't have to surface regularly, they do come up to periscope depth where they might be spotted by aircraft or observers on shore. Shallower waters, such as the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean, are particularly perilous with the distinctive outline of a boat scores of feet down visible from aircraft overhead - as World War 2 crews learned to their cost.

As special forces missions involving submarine insertion or extraction in shallow waters become more of a priority, and near-shore surveillance missions become a staple of the submarine's repertoire, minimizing visual detection becomes more important. The Silent Service and the Fleet Signature Reduction Team will note HMS Torbay's performance operating alongside her sister boat HMS Trafalgar (still in more traditional black submarine livery).

The United States new class of Submarine, the "Virginia Class" was designed for near shore missions:

The Virginia's design breaks from her predecessors in one very important respect -- she was made for the littorals. The littorals, for those without sea legs, are shallow waters -- making the Virginia very useful in land attacks, mine reconnaissance, and intelligence gathering. While the SSN-774 is also equipped for "blue water" or deep sea mission needs, her wide range of capability includes support for a full range of covert special warfare missions. This includes search and rescue, sabotage and diversionary attacks, and direct strikes against enemy objectives.
TO NEW DEPTHS: The SSN-774 Virginia-Class Attack Submarine ( article (Reference at end of paper))

The camouflage design team of Dr. Timothy R. O'Neill and Guy Cramer looking at these Littoral operations concluded a better system was required to deceive an observer from identifying the shape of a submarine under the surface in lighter waters. The answer was not digital (pixalated) camouflage but an improved version to the old WWI-WWII Dazzle Camouflage designed to throw off U-Boat captains.

U-boats did not aim their torpedos directly at a ship to sink it. Because the target was moving, it was necessary to aim ahead of its path in order for the torpedo to arrive in the correct spot at the same time as the ship. If the torpedo is too early or too late, it will miss. The primary goal of dazzle painting was to confuse the U-boat commander who was trying to observe the course and speed of his target. The British called this camouflage scheme "Dazzle Painting." The Americans called it "Razzle Dazzle."

At the end of the the First World War, dazzle painting was discontinued, as the admirals had never really liked painting their ships in such an un-military fashion. Also, the introduction of effective air power made dazzle painting problematic, as it increased the ship's visibility to aircraft. The US Navy reintroduced dazzle painting during World War II (after Japanese air power had been largely eliminated) to protect our ships from the renewed threat of enemy submarines. However, continuing improvements in radar and sonar eventually eliminated any need for submarine commanders to actually sight their targets visually. This meant that by the end of the war dazzle painting no longer served any useful purpose, and US warships were quickly repainted to a "haze grey" color.

The new Cramer/O'Neill design is called "Razzcam. With improved weapons becoming available to low technology Naval ships, the threat of unguided High Speed (100 meters per second) Underwater Missiles, creates the need to deceive the observer from the weapons launch point of the course and speed so they aim at the wrong part of the ship, close to century later and a similar method of camouflage disruption is once again required.

This simulation below left of the new Razzcam in a High Contrast paint scheme, the colors are not meant to conceal as much as to disruption the shape: The simulation on the right shows a better blending color scheme in the lighter waters.

HMS Torbay simulated with the Blending Razzcam (left) the actual Blue paint (Right) and old Black paint (below)

A few simulations of the U.S. Subs under the surface with the Razzcam where the pattern is meant to disrupt the indefinable shape from an observer above the surface of the water as well as mask the horizontal movement of the submarines. This pattern version is meant for diesel-electric submarines only.

Dr. Timothy R. O'Neill and Guy Cramer were recently asked to develop a unique pattern for a specific country's Police Force. A number of different patterns were developed and submitted but the teams favorite pattern Razzcam was rejected due to the lack of pixalated digital element, a digitized version was later developed but the team still preferred the original look - this pattern is still available for license.

For more Camouflage news go to the HyperStealth® Home Page


British Subs Debunk Conventional Fashion: Is Blue the New Black?

TO NEW DEPTHS: The SSN-774 Virginia-Class Attack Submarine,14632,Soldiertech_Virginia,,00.html

Razzle Dazzle Camouflage

 Patterns may be licensed only with permission.

These patterns are copyrighted © 2006 by Guy Cramer and Timothy R. O'Neill, All Rights Reserved. Patterns may only be used only with permission.

This page and information © Copyright 2006,Guy Cramer,Timothy R. O'Neill, All Rights Reserved.

HyperStealth is a Registered Canadian Trademark of HyperStealth.

"RazzCam Camouflage" is a Trademark of Guy Cramer and Timothy R. O'Neill

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