SS Finmarken’s two ship’s bells

The old SS Finmarken (1912) coastal express had two ship’s bells. The Hurtigruten Museum has both in its collection. It is currently required by norwegian law to have at least one bell on board ships over 20 meters. The bells are used to mark arrivals and departures, and can be used in emergency situations where other technology fails and visibility, for example, is a challenge.

In earlier times, ship’s bells were used on board, among other things, to keep track of time. There would be an hourglass on the bridge that amounted to half an hour. In addition, there was a small ship’s bell on the open bridge and a larger one on the deck. Every time one turned the hourglass on the bridge, the small bell was rung and then immediately after, the other, slightly larger bell. This allowed everyone on board to keep track of the time and shift cycle on board. This is a practice that dates back to the days of sailing ships, and probably even further back.

As watch technology on land improved, and watches were developed that worked even at sea in rough seas, other ways of monitoring time on board were adopted. But it continued to be the practice to have a ship’s bell on board

Perhaps the reason why SS Finnmarken got two bells instead of one in 1912 was to be able to keep time the old way still?

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Hurtigruten Museum

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