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Types Of Ship Bells

September 22nd, 2010

Ship's Bells

There are several different types of ship’s bells. Throughout history the ship’s bell has been used for a multitude of tasks, ranging from timekeeping, religious ceremonies, and alarms. The ship’s bell has even become a prized possession of many model ship collectors. These model ship bells can come in many different types, such as chrome or brass. The ship’s bell is a significant part of nautical culture, and remains a symbol of tradition to this day.

In the days prior to the invention of the chronometer, it was necessary for the crew aboard a ship to keep accurate time somehow. This was first done by using a half-hour glass. The person in charge of keeping track of the drops of sand would strike a bell every time he turned over the glass to signal the start of the next half-hour. Once a full hour was completed, he would strike the bell two times. Every hour after that would see an additional two bell strikes added on to it. The process would go like this until the end of the watchman’s four hour shift, after which the process would begin anew. These types of ship’s bells are even in use today for the United States Navy’s daily routine.

Among the types of ship’s bells is the religious ceremonial ship’s bell. This began in the British Royal Navy as a customary practice of baptizing their children underneath of the ship’s bell. Commonly, the ship’s bell would also be used as a christening bowl for the ceremonial proceedings. After completion of the baptism, the child’s name was typically written on the inside of the ship’s bell. This is a significant religious ceremonial practice held by the Royal Navy at the time. The bell would continue to remain in use by the ship until it was decommissioned, at which time the religious bell would be stored with the Department of the Navy. Ship bells have an even more religious background, as sometimes these types of ship bells would be loaned to churches. However, in modern times these bells are stored with municipalities or museums instead.

The long tradition of the ship bell’s use is what is attractive to many model ship consumers. Fans of nautical history must have the ship’s bell to decorate their nautical room, lest it run the risk of not feeling authentic. Model ship bells come in many types as well. For instance, there are brass anchor bells, brass hand bells, bracket bells, aluminum ship’s bells, chrome bells, and many many more.

The ship’s bell is indeed a significant part of both the British and American Navies history. These types of ship bells still play important roles in our Navies today. It is not likely that we will see the tradition of the ship’s bell become discontinued any time soon.

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