The bell from sunken Second World War battle cruiser HMS Hood has been recovered after lying on the seabed for more than 74 years.
It was hoisted from the bottom of the Denmark Strait, between Greenland and Iceland, by US philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft Paul G Allen.
The 18-inch high bell, which was cast for the previous battleship of the same name, will now be restored and displayed at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The sinking of the Hood on May 24 1941 by the German battleship Bismarck shocked a nation by then used to war.
Only three of its 1,418 crew survived the sinking during the Battle of the Denmark Strait.
The fifth salvo from the Bismarck hit the ship’s magazine resulting in a catastrophic explosion, which tore it in half, and it sank in less than three minutes.
The flagship of the fleet was part of a force ordered to engage the Bismarck and her escort cruiser Prinz Eugen off Greenland.
The recovery of the Ship’s Bell will help ensure the 1,415 men lost, and the name Hood, will always be remembered by a grateful nationAdmiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord
In the days after the sinking, wartime prime minister Winston Churchill ordered the Bismarck must be hunted down and sunk.
On May 27, the battleship was finally destroyed after several days of attacks by Royal Navy ships and the Royal Air Force.
First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, said: “A magnificent symbol of the power of the Royal Navy in the inter-war years, the Mighty Hood is one of the greatest fighting ships in our nation’s long and glorious maritime history.
“That she was lost with her guns thundering in defence of the convoys that formed Britain’s lifeline, is a tragic reminder of the high price that our island nation paid for survival, and for the freedom and prosperity we enjoy today.
“Her story, her sacrifice, continues to inspire the Royal Navy today. The recovery of the Ship’s Bell will help ensure the 1,415 men lost, and the name Hood, will always be remembered by a grateful nation.”
After the conservation, which is likely to take around 12 months, the bell will be reunited with the bell of HMS Prince of Wales, which took part in the same Denmark Strait action with the Bismarck but survived, only to be sunk at the end of the year by the Japanese in the South China Sea.
Three years ago Mr Allen was thwarted in his efforts to pick up the bell by the weather in the waters between Iceland and Greenland.
But he returned this summer with his yacht Octopus and its state-of-the-art robot submarine from the same firm, Blue Water Recoveries, which found the Hood’s wreck back in 2001, and recovered the bell on August 7 from a depth of 2,800 meters (9,186 feet).
Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks’ uncle went down with the battle cruiser.
Also president of the HMS Hood Association, he said: “There is no headstone among the flowers for those who perish at sea.
“For the 1,415 officers and men who lost their lives in HMS Hood on May 24 1941, the recovery of her bell and its subsequent place of honour in the National Museum of the Royal Navy will mean that future generations will be able to gaze upon her bell and remember with gratitude and thanks the heroism, courage and personal sacrifice of Hood’s ship’s company who died in the service of their country.”