At first glance Dazzle seems unlikely camouflage, drawing attention to the ship rather than hiding it, but this technique was developed after the Allied Navies were unable to develop effective means to disguise ships in all weather.
Dazzle did not conceal the ship but made it difficult for the enemy to estimate its type, size, speed and heading.… Its purpose was confusion rather than concealment.
The inventor of Dazzle Camouflage, artist Norman Wilkinson wrote,
[Dazzle was a] method to produce an effect by paint in such a way that all accepted forms of a ship are broken up by masses of strongly contrasted colour, consequently making it a matter of difficulty for a submarine to decide on the exact course of the vessel to be attacked.
But did it work?
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 coloured ships in dock was nothing ever seen before or since.