"... The result is a nearly symmetrical vessel seen from either side, and if it weren't for that stack--on the slender side proportionally--you couldn't tell if the ugly ol' gal was coming or going."
You've got it right there - and I'm pretty sure that that was the intention. She was designed at a time when U-boats were very much feared and therefore the design incorporated symmetry as much as possible and exaggerated the "sunken well deck" fore and aft, with very little sheer of the bow and stern, clearly to deceive an observer, such as a Kapitänleutnant peering through his periscope. The false stern is shaped above the waterline to be as near as possible to the shape of the bow and would have carried false anchors to complete the illusion - and I thought the Brits were clever with their Kil-class gunboats!
Good one Melmoth! Right up there with "Son of a Bitch 2nd Class"!(Curtiss SB2C)