Dazzling performance by Mersey shipyard

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Snowdrop gets its dazzle on in a Cammell Laird dry dock

MARCH 18, 2015—As part of the events to mark the centenary of World War I, Birkenhead, U.K., shipyard and marine engineering services company Cammell Laird has completed painting the Mersey ferry Snowdrop in a dazzle design by British pop artist Sir Peter Blake, best known as the designer of the cover for the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Dazzle was a type of ship camouflage adapted by both the British Admiralty and U.S. Navy and used extensively in World War I and to a lesser extent in World War II. It consisted of complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colors, interrupting and intersecting each other. It was meant to work not by concealing but by baffling the eye, making it difficult to estimate a target’s range, speed and direction. Each ship’s dazzle pattern was unique in order to avoid making classes of ships instantly recognizable to enemy U- boats and aircraft.

Liverpool Biennial, 14-18 NOW: the First World War Centenary Art Commissions, and Tate Liverpool commissioned Sir Peter Blake to dazzle the Mersey ferry Snowdrop in partnership with Merseytravel, which owns and operates the ferry, and National Museums Liverpool.

Sir Peter’s design, entitled Everybody Razzle Dazzle, covers the passenger vessel with a distinctive pattern that will be seen for the next two years as the ferry continues its service.

“Cammell Laird is steeped in naval history and played a key role in the First World War,” said the shipyard’s CEO, John Syvret. “We feel honored to help commemorate the centenary by dazzling another vessel. The project provides a meaningful way for Cammell Laird to reflect on the significant contribution the company made to the country during the war years.”

Though dazzle painting is not an every day job for the shipbuilder and ship repairer, more conventional ferry work is a staple of Cammell Laird’s business.T. During 2013 and 2014 Cammell Laird repaired, built and converted almost 500,000 gross tons of ferry and Ro-Ro ships for a wide range of owners. Already in 2015 it has docked and repaired ferries of 150,000 gross tons. Ferries worked on include both conventional and high speed vessels in steel and aluminum.

Customers include Caledonian MacBrayne, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Irish Ferries, Mersey Ferries, NorthLink Ferries, Orkney Ferries, P&O Ferries, Seatruck Ferries and Stena Line.

In February, Cammell Laird was awarded a newbuilding contract to build a new new car and passenger ferry for the Northern Ireland Executive to replace the existing MV Strangford operating between Strangford and Portaferry in County Down, Northern Ireland. The new ferry is due to be delivered by August 2016.

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