“SLOW BELL” has a storied maritime history

The SLOW BELL sign at the ferry landing…have you wondered what it means?
In the old days, the ship’s bell was used to communicate important information, including the ship’s speed. Commands were conveyed through the engine order telegraph (E.O.T.), a critical instrument aboard ships from the 19th century until approximately 1950. It allowed the ship’s captain or pilot on the bridge to communicate precise speed instructions to the engine room. Each turn of the dial triggered a bell in the engine room, signaling the desired speed adjustment.

SLOW BELL sign at the Galveston ferry landing

This apparatus featured a circular dial, approximately nine inches in diameter, with a central knob, handles, and a pointer. Each rotation of the dial triggered a resounding bell in the engine room, indicating the desired speed adjustment. This communication system was the lifeblood of seafaring during that era, ensuring the seamless operation of ships through the vast seas.

Today, the term “SLOW BELL” is still used to indicate a reduction in speed, but ships now rely on more modern technology to measure their speed. You’ll often encounter “SLOW BELL” signs near maritime facilities and on ships themselves, serving as a tangible link to a timeless tradition of nautical communication.

Facebook Twitter
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Site by CrystalBeachLocalNews.com