Ship Camouflage Instructions
United States Navy
Ships - 2 
Revision 2
Bureau of Ships
June 1942



Definition of Ship Camouflage

Ship Camouflage may be defined as the means by which the visibility of a ship is reduced, or by the means by which deception is caused in course or range estimation, or in class identification.

The most common method of attaining these end is through some form of special painting, and this book is limited to camouflage by that means.

This is the second revision of SHIPS-2 and it supplants all previous issues in their entirety.  Further revision should be expected and encouraged in a subject in which practice is far from becoming crystallized, and this book is therefore issued in loose leaf form.  It is requested that pertinent comments be submitted and that instances of notably effective and ineffective camouflage be reported.  Special forms for making camouflage reports have been printed and are issued with this book.

The Selection of a Suitable System

Ship camouflage measures have two general purposes:

  1. The Reduction of Visibility - Protective Coloration
  2. Course or Range Deception - Generally Pattern Systems

The systems included in this book belong in the first category, though Measure 16 contains some elements of deception.

No one type of camouflage can possibly give any protection under all situations.  The method of ship painting must be adapted to the tactical situation which is involved, and  a radical change in the tactics of either offense or defense should entail re-examination of the suitability of the type of camouflage already in use.  A method of ship painting which is intended to give protection during a period of greatest danger may at other times be of  very high visibility.

Measures for reducing visibility have best chance of success at night, in gray weather or on hazy days when visibility is limited.  Very light colored ships are best at night except in the glare of searchlight.  Light colored ships are best against periscope observation and dark ships are best against air observation.  When light ships are clearly visible it is easy to judge target angle and make identification.  Dark ships are much better in this respect.

The systems presented are to be placed in effect when ordered by competent authority.  A summary of conditions under which the various methods will prove most effective is given on page 4, and a fuller explanation will be found under each camouflage measure.

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