Here’s an interesting article tracing the historical path of the USS Merrimack (later the CSS Virginia)’s ship’s bell.
The ship bell is one of several the museum has on display, Judge said, though it’s fairly rare to have one from the Civil War era. “Bells are very emotional artifacts to the Navy,” he said. “Symbolically, they’re very rich in meaning.”
“We’re preserving the heart of a ship,” added Max Lonzanida, spokesman for the museum.
Source: Glad you asked: Whatever happened to the brass bell salvaged from the USS Merrimack? – Daily Press