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Bell of sunken U.S. Navy ship returns home after 134 years

SS Central America bell.jpg
Posted at 11:12 AM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 11:26:14-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The bell of a U.S. Navy ship that sank more than 130 years ago has finally returned home.

It was September of 1857 when a hurricane wiped out the SS Central America, 150 miles off the coast of North Carolina.

The "Ship of Gold," as it was called was led by Cmdr. William Lewis Herndon. It's estimated to have had 15 tons of gold on board when it was swept under water.

Legend has it that Herndon ordered all crew members to evacuate before bowing in prayer near the ship wheelhouse as it sank. His efforts reportedly saved the lives of 152 people.

The bell itself was discovered just 34 years ago. It stands more than two-feet tall and weighs 268 pounds.

Dwight Manley, of California, donated the bell to the Naval Academy during a May 23 ceremony, in front of Herndon's descendants.

“Commander Herndon’s story reminds us of our responsibility and obligation as naval officers to keep fighting for our ship and our shipmates all the way to the end,” said Vice Adm. Sean Buck, Superintendent of the Naval Academy. His classmates from the Class of 1983 will be donating a granite bell carrier at a later date.