Friday, April 27, 2012

Ships' Bell, World Traveller

We recently received this ships' bell.  The plural possessive form of "ship" is used because several different ships used this bell.   Engraved into the bell's brass are the names of four different ships and some of the ports the ships visited.   Some of the port names include Murmansk in the Soviet Union and Havana, Cuba.

We are not entirely sure of the order of ships that used the bell.  But, through a bit of historical forensic work, we can make a good educated guess.The first ship is USS Dubuque (PG-17), a large patrol gunboat commissioned in 1904.  Throughout World War II, Dubuque served as a training ship from the Naval Armed Guard (U.S.N. sailors who served as gun crews on Merchant Marine vessels during the war) out of Little Creek Amphibious Base.  The Navy struck Dubuque in 1946.
The second ship is USS Fargo (CL-106), a late-war light cruiser that was based at Naval Station Norfolk.  Her career was short, but she made several important post-World War II diplomatic cruises in the Mediterranean.  The Navy decommissioned Fargo in 1950.

The third and fourth ships were the attack transport USS Rockbridge (APA-225) and the ocean tug USS Samoset (ATA-190).  Rockbridge seems to be the more likely candidate for ship number three, as she was based at Little Creek from 1951 to 1968, where she served as an amphibious assault training vessel.  The Navy struck her in 1968. Ship number four,  Samoset, tended to  Naval Station Norfolk's ships until 1969.   After Samoset, the bell was on display at Little Creek Amphibious Base for many years.

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