Nine months after Midhurst marine scientist David Mearns led the operation to recover the historic bell from HMS Hood it has been unveiled by The Princess Royal.
Princess Anne struck eight bells at midday at a ceremony at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as descendants of some of the 1,415 sailors who lost their lives when the ship was hit by Bismarck on May 24, 1941, looked on.
The ceremony marked the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the ship. It was the largest Royal Navy vessel to have been sunk causing the biggest loss of life suffered by any single British warship.
Only three of Hood’s crew survived and it was the expressed wish of one of them, Ted Briggs, to recover the ship’s bell as a memorial to his shipmates.
Mr Mearns, Director of Blue Water Recoveries based on Knockhundred Row said: “I am extremely pleased we have been able to fulfil one of the last wishes of Ted Briggs to recover the ship’s bell as a memorial and we are delighted that it is now on display as a reminder of the service and sacrifice of her men.”
Following the unveiling, the bell was carried to Boathouse 5 for the official opening by Princess Anne of the exhibition ‘36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War’ which marks the centenary of the Battle of Jutland.
The bell’s retrieval from one and a half miles below the surface was led by Blue Water Recoveries, part of the team assembled by US philanthropist and entrepreneur, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The expedition was launched from Mr Allen’s yacht Octopus, equipped with a state-of-the-art Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that was adapted to safely retrieve the bell.
36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War is open for three years. Details on visiting are available on www.jutland.org.uk
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