Ships’ bells mark the watch, sound alarms, send signals, declare a ship’s presence in foggy weather and even serve as baptismal fonts.
Usually engraved, the ship’s bell is often the primary identifying element of an historic wreck, as was the bronze bell from HMS Erebus, explorer John Franklin’s vessel that was found after 168 years beneath Arctic waters.
Bells aboard modern ships often bear the name of the shipyard that built the ship in addition to the name of the ship itself. If the ship’s name is changed, maritime tradition dictates the original bell with the original name remain with the vessel.
For all the high technology of modern-day ships, both naval and otherwise, a bell remains standard equipment and has been since at least the 15th century. International law requires i...