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Press Notice No: 330/04

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


The bell from the wreck of the SS Prince Leopold will be returned to Ostende on Monday 29th November, after 60 years on the seabed.

The bell was discovered by a recreational diver who recognised its historic significance and reported it to the Receiver of Wreck with the request that the Receiver should try to find an appropriate museum for it.

Keen to add this piece of local history to their collection, the De Plate Museum, Ostende, have arranged a press conference and reception at which the Receiver of Wreck and Mr Tim Bennetto (the finder) will formally hand the bell over to the Mayor of Ostende and the Captain of the Port.

The SS Prince Leopold was commissioned by the Belgian Government in 1928. It was registered in Ostende and spent most of its working life on the cross-Channel route from Dover to Ostende. After the outbreak of the Second World War, the Prince Leopold was requisitioned and converted into an infantry landing ship, but met its end in 1944 when it was torpedoed by U-621 off the Isle of Wight.

Receiver of Wreck Sophia Exelby stated ˇĄThe MCA is very pleased to have been instrumental in the return of this bell to its home port, and I know that the De Plate Museum is delighted to be able to give the bell pride of place in its exhibition dedicated to this strategically important route which has connected our two countries for many years.ˇ¦


Notes to editors

„X It is a legal requirement that all recovered wreck is reported to the Receiver of Wreck. The Receiver of Wreck is responsible for the administration of that part of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, which deals with wreck and salvage. If you find wreck you can contact the Receiver of Wreck via your local Coastguard station or Marine Office.

„X The Receiver of Wreck investigates ownership of wreck items. The owner has one year in which to come forward and prove title to the property. If the wreck remains unclaimed after that year it becomes property of the Crown and the Receiver is required to dispose of it. This may be through sale, although in many cases the finder will be allowed to keep the item in lieu of a salvage award.

Posted by: Joanne Groenenberg

For further details contact:
The Maritime & Coastguard Agency Duty Press Officer
Office hours: 023 8032 9401

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