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Mechanical Ship's Clock

The ship's bell code

Ship's bell strike is based on "watches" onboard ship of 4 hours each. A new watch starts at noon, 4 p.m., 8 p.m., midnight, 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. The end of a "watch" and start of a new watch is marked by the bell being struck 8 times. A half hour later, the bell is struck once, with an additional strike each half hour until the end of the watch. Then the cycle starts again. The bells are struck in pairs, that is, the first two bells are struck close together followed by a pause, then the next two, etc. The table below shows the pattern of the bells.

Time Number of

Bells Struck Pattern of Bells

4:00 8:00 12:00 8 Bells xx xx xx xx

4:30 8:30 12:30 1 Bell x

5:00 9:00 1:00 2 Bells xx

5:30 9:30 1:30 3 Bells xx x

6:00 10:00 2:00 4 Bells xx xx

6:30 10:30 2:30 5 Bells xx xx x

7:00 11:00 3:00 6 Bells xx xx xx

7:30 11:30 3:30 7 Bells xx xx xx x

8:00 12:00 4:00 8 Bells xx xx xx xx