Have you ever wondered why submarines are generally painted black and not other colours? So, let’s talk about submarines and camouflage.
You might be shocked to learn that, prior to the introduction of nuclear power, submarines spent more time on the surface than underwater, making camouflage a need for hiding from opponents.
During World War I, the US conducted secret trials to determine which colour would be best suited for their submarine fleet to protect them from visual detection; the results revealed that for a surfaced submarine, black paint provides the best visual protection, not because of its camouflaging properties, but because of its superior durability when compared to any other colour providing the same amount of visual protection.
This explains why black and submarines were formerly best friends, but what about today’s modern submarines? The most striking feature is that most modern submarines are not painted at all; instead, they are covered in anechoic tiles, which are only available in one colour: BLACK.
The majority of anechoic tiles are comprised of rubber or synthetic polymer tiles with thousands of microscopic gaps. Their function is twofold: one is to absorb the sound waves of active sonar, and the other is to attenuate the sounds emitted by the vessel to reduce the range at which it can be detected by passive sonar.
During World War II, the Kriegsmarine developed anechoic tile technology. The Anechoic tile coating was initially tested at sea on U-Boats in the 1940s. The US Navy and the Royal Navy began employing Anechoic tiles on their submarines in the 1980s.
You’re probably wondering why the Anechoic tiles are black. The Anechoic tiles are composed of Rubber, which has a natural hue of White. So, if the rubber is white, why are the automobile tires and anechoic tiles black? What gives tires their black colour is the addition of carbon black to the rubber.
All military submarines are primarily black, and this engineering decision is motivated by a single goal: to stay invisible.
A quick yet helpful explanation is provided in the video below: