BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Ahead of this year’s lively Herndon Climb, a ceremony was held to ring the bell of a legendary ship, led by Cmdr. William Lewis Herndon. The 268-pound bronze bell was donated to the institution by a Californian.
The SS Central America encountered a three-day hurricane off the coast of North Carolina in 1857. The academy said after Cmdr. Herndon gave the order to abandon ship, he stayed at controls to facilitate the evacuation of passengers, and went down with the ship. The academy said his efforts saved the lives of 152 people.
The ship sank with 15 tons of California Gold Rush gold, earning it the name “Ship of Gold”. The bell was discovered in 1988, 131 years after the ship sank.
The Class of 1860 dedicated a 21-foot obelisk to Herndon in honor of his sacrifice. The memorial is now the centerpiece of the annual Herndon Climb, a plebeian rite of passage in which the class compete to fit an upper class man’s hat on the statue, which is covered in lard.
“Commander Herndon’s story reminds us of our responsibility and obligation as naval officers to fight to the end for our ship and our shipmates,” said Vice Admiral Sean Buck, superintendent of the Naval Academy.
The academy said Adm. Buck of the Class of 1983 would later donate a granite bell support.
https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/05/23/us-naval-academy-gifted-recovered-bell-from/ The US Naval Academy donated a salvaged bell from a legendary sunken ship – CBS Baltimore