Belfast Ships: HMS Belfast

Europe’s only surviving big gun armoured warship

The 10,550 ton Edinburgh class light cruiser HMS Belfast was launched on March 17, 1938. While engaged in wartime operations in the North sea on November 21, 1939, it was severely damaged by a magnetic mine. After extensive rebuilding, the ship was equipped with the latest radar and fire control systems.

It was employed in the North Atlantic and Arctic for the next two years, providing close range heavy cover for the Arctic convoys taking supplies to the Soviet Union. The HMS Belfast was involved in the battle off North Cape and in June 1944, it led a naval bombardment off Normandy in support of the Allied landings on D-Day.

Between 1945 and 1947, the HMS Belfast served in the far east. Returning to Asia in 1948 after a refit, the ship was among the first British ships to go into action in the Korean war and spent 404 days on active patrol.

The HMS Belfast was thoroughly modernised in the late 1950s and served in the far east and Indian ocean from 1959 to 1962.

After briefly operating in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, the cruiser was placed in reserve in August 1963.

Since 1971, the HMS Belfast has been a museum ship permanently moored at the Thames, close to London Bridge. As Europe’s only surviving big gun armoured warship, it offers the visitor a unique opportunity to experience how sailors lived onboard a Royal Navy cruiser during the second world war.