There are several primary sources that speak in general terms of painting operations, but no definitive, specific sources have come to light so far. With that in mind, the following rough-and-ready notes on the paint scheme of U.S. submarine chasers in WWI are offered as a point of reference for a longer-term research project. Note that there are several photographs in the <em>Close Aboard</em> category showing some of these features.


  • The chaser hull was painted the standard navy gray. Supply invoices indicate "gray paint." In the photos, the hulls appear to be the same gray as other Navy vessels. The standard formula is indicated in the booklet, Painting and Cementing Vessels of the United States Navy
  • A wide stripe at the waterline was painted black, also a rather standard feature.
  • Below the black stripe was probably standard "red-lead" paint, although at least one document indicates that a chaser repainted overseas was painted with gray-green anti-fouling paint rather than red.

Deck / Roofs

  • Different sources offer different information as to whether or not the deck was painted. Jack Hudock notes that a set of Navy Department scale drawings clearly indicates, "Deck planking laid with curve of plank sheer, blind nailed and edge fastened, caulked with cotton, seams payed with paint and filled with putty. Deck painted." Note that some chaser photos to show "sprung" decks, while many show straight-laid decks. This same source indicates that roofs (pilot house, deck houses) were to be sheathed in #10 canvas and painted.

SCALE  1" & 3" = 1 FOOT
WASHINGTON, D.C., MAR. 17, 1917

  • However, in the “Painting and Cementing” book, it seems to say that wood decks were not to be painted. See this page.
    • I would expect that they would have painted or stained the deck, anyway, at least during wartime.
  • Apparently in some cases the deck was sheathed with canvas to help keep water out. In most photos, the hull planking is visible. This was probably painted gray as well. 
  • A chaser model by a crewman shows a natural wood deck, but this might be more of an artistic choice, to show some contrast.
  • Aerial recognition roundels were painted on some chasers. At least one example is from a chaser serving in the Otranto barrage. This is a standard "bull's eye" roundel, probably the British Type A scheme, red in the center, white in the middle and blue on the outside. The roundels are painted forward of the spray shield, as large as will fit in the space. (See photograph in Close Aboard category.)
  • A second style shows a diamond-shape inside the outer circle. (See photograph in Close Aboard category.)
  • A third style, shown in Millholland's book (The Splinter Fleet of the Otranto Barrage), shows a triangular design.

Hull Marks

  • There are many different types of hull marks. Letter schemes vary by time frame and location. Some letter codes were used during convoys across the Atlantic. Others were local designations.
  • The most typical hull mark is "SC" and the hull number, as in SC 93, painted on the bow on both sides in large characters. (See examples in the section The Chasers under hull number photos and photo sets.)
  • One and two-letter codes were also used from time to time.
  • Sometimes combinations - the SC number and a letter - were used.
  • In most photos, the chaser number (without "SC") appears on the crow's nest canvas. In some shots it is also painted on the flying bridge canvas, and sometimes on the bridge wing canvas.
  • Letter/number codes sometimes also appear on the stern.
  • Black outlines sometimes appear around the hull marks.
  • Shadow letters were used in some cases, most examples being from post-war operations.

Equipment and Details on Deck

  • The sheet metal components -- cowl ventilators, stacks, depth charges, etc. -- appear to be standard gray. Interior surfaces of the cowl ventilators are sometimes gray and sometimes white.
  • Inside spaces (such as the interior walls of the deck house) were white.
  • Brass fixtures such as the ship's bell appear to be polished metal, unpainted.
  • The bearing indicator is white on the tip, yellow on the shaft and red on the tail. The shaft sometimes appears to be black, or possibly red as the tail; but yellow is the standard color indicated in tactical documents.