Bronze Ship’s Bell
This large ship’s bell is crafted of bronze and has a diameter of 16 inches. The bell itself is 10 inches in height. It is fastened to a stand, with total dimensions measuring 25 inches in height, 32 inches in width and 218 inches in diameter. The bell is of Russian manufacture.
According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, “before the advent of the chronometer, time at sea was measured by the trickle of sand through a half – hour glass. One of the ship’s boys had the duty of watching the glass and turning it when the sand had run out. When he turned the glass, he struck the bell as a signal that he had performed this vital function. The ringing of the bell evolved into the tradition of striking the bell once at the end of the first half hour of a four hour watch, twice after the first hour, etc., until eight bells marked the end of the four hour watch. The process was repeated for the succeeding watches. This age-old practice of sounding the bell on the hour and half hour has its place in the nuclear and missile oriented United States Navy at the dawn of the Twenty-First Century, regulating daily routine, just as it did on our historic vessels under sail in the late Eighteenth Century.” The bell was frequently engraved with the name of the ship, and even if moved to a new vessel, the original ship’s name was kept on the bell.
[Description provided by J. Revell Carr, former President and Director, Mystic Seaport: The Museum of American and the Sea]