USS Whitehurst Logo by: Pat Stephens, Webmaster, DESA
 

US Navy Time by Clock and Bells
The Navy clock is a 24 hour clock.  The times are spoken as
4 digit numbers with 2 digits for the hours and 2 for the minutes. For example
5:15 a.m. is spoken as "oh five fifteen" and 5:15 p.m. is "Seventeen fifteen".
Hours alone are spoken as a number followed by the word "hundred".  Example, 8:00 would be spokes as "oh eight hundred".

Bell Time is related to Watch Periods

The United States Navy's day is divided into six 4 hour watches.   Midnight to 4 a.m., 4 to 8 a.m., 8 to 12 n, 12 n to 4 p.m., 4 to 8 p.m., and 8 to midnight.  The U.S. Navy's day begins and ends at midnight. (00 or 2400 by the clock face). 30 minutes thereafter 1 bell will be struck indicating a half hour in to the watch.
A half hour later the bell will be struck to indicate 2 half hours into the watch.

A four hour watch period actually starts when 8 bells are struck to indicate the completion of the previous watch.  At this time the bell count starts all over again. After the first half hour 1 bell is struck and with the passing of each half hour, 1 bell is added to the number last struck.  Hence an odd number of bells are struck on the half hours and an even number on the hours.  The count of the bells struck actually indicate the number of half hour periods which have passed in the watch; hence 8 bells indicate the completion of the 4 hour watch.

In order to translate Bell Time to Clock Time the watch period must be known.  For example 2 bells can be 1 a.m., 5 a.m., 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m., or 9 p.m. depending on the watch period.

Bell Time Chart

Bells Struck  Time into the Watch       Various clock times

1 bell                1 half hour                   00:30, 04:30, 08:30,  12:30, 16:30. 20:30
2 bells              1 hour                           01:00, 05:00, 09:00,  13:00, 17:00, 21:00
3 bells              1 and 1 half                  01:30, 05:30, 09:30,  13:30, 17:30, 21:30
4 bells               2 hours                        02:00, 06:00, 10:00,   14:00, 18:00. 22:00
5 bells               2 and 1 half                 02:30, 06:30, 10:30,   14:30, 18:30, 22:30
6 bells               3 hours                        03:00, 07:00, 11:00,   15:00, 19:00, 23:00
7 bells               3 and 1 half                 03:30, 07:30, 11:30,   15:30, 19:30, 23:30
8 bells               4 hours                        04:00, 08:00, 12:00,    16:00, 20:00, 00:00  

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