LEGENDARY British pop artist Sir Peter Blake - who designed the Beatles iconic Sgt Pepper's album sleave -  was commissioned to "dazzle" a Mersey Ferry that was unveiled today as part of First World War commemorations.

Sir Peter's design entitled "Everybody Razzle Dazzle" covers the ferry Snowdrop, surrounding the passenger vessel with a distinctive camouflage pattern. It was painted by a team of seven staff from Cammell Laird in Birkenhead.

The project is a co-commission by 14-18 NOW, Tate Liverpool and Liverpool Biennial, in partnership with Merseytravel and National Museums Liverpool.

Unlike other forms of camouflage, dazzle works not by concealing but by baffling the eye, making it difficult to estimate a target’s range, speed and direction.

During the war it was intended primarily to mislead the enemy; each ship’s dazzle pattern, realised in monochrome and colour, was unique in order to avoid making classes of ships instantly recognisable to enemy U- boats and aircraft.

As well as being a moving artwork, visitors who board the Snowdrop can learn more about the history of dazzle and the role that the Mersey Ferries took in the First World War in a display developed by curators from National Museums Liverpool and Tate Liverpool.

Prior to the launch Sir Peter Blake said: "I've had long association with Liverpool over the years and I'm honoured and excited to have been asked to design a dazzle image for the iconic Mersey Ferry."

The 82-year-old added: "This has to be my largest artwork to date and it is very exciting to see how the painters at Cammell Laird have executed my design."

David Brown, chief executive of Merseytravel, said: "The whole concept of 'Razzle Dazzle' has generated buzz and excitement even before launch, with people keenly following Snowdrop's transformation and then sharing what they've seen.

"The Mersey Ferries are iconic and already the number one paid for attraction on Merseyside. This project should not only capture the imagination of those visiting from afar, but will be a means for those who live locally to rediscover what's on their doorstep.

"We're offering up our ferry as a canvas and exhibition space through history of dazzle ships and the important role the Mersey Ferries played during the First World War can be explained. We're proud to be supporting a project of such local, regional and national significance."

Sally Tallant, director of Liverpool Biennial, said: "It is an honour to commission Sir Peter Blake to revisit the practice of dazzle camouflage and to invite him to paint the Snowdrop. 

"This is the third vessel that we have co-commissioned with our partners and it is wonderful that we are able to undertake this ambitious project with the support of the Exceptional Awards programme from Arts Council England.

"Millions of people will have the opportunity to see and engage with the artwork and we are delighted to be able to bring this exciting project to Liverpool."

John Syvret, chief executive of Cammell Laird, said: "Cammell Laird is steeped in naval history and played a key role in the First World War.

"We feel honoured to help commemorate the occasion by dazzling a Mersey Ferry after we successfully dazzled the Edmund Gardner last year.

"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."