HMS Belfast is the only surviving example of a Royal Navy big gun armoured warship. Commissioned on 5th August 1939, HMS Belfast played an important role in both World War II and the Korean War. After sailing an estimated half a million miles, HMS Belfast was decommissioned on 14th October 1971. The ship is now administered by the Imperial War Museum and permanently moored between London Bridge and Tower Bridge near Morgan’s Lane. She is open to visitors on a daily basis, giving them the opportunity to explore the ships nine decks, and to experience a little of what life must have been like on a Royal Navy warship of this period, and to learn of the role the ship played during her military life.
HMS Belfast, along with its sister ship the HMS Edinburgh, are Edinburgh-
While at sea, the HMS Belfast became home to approximately 950 sailors, and the aim is to show how life on board functioned. The practicalities of sustaining a crew of this size during long periods at sea and still respond to the demands of being on a war footing are considerable. So along with seeing the armaments, control centres, and the beating heart of the ship, the engine room, the visitor is given the opportunity to discover how these 950 sailors managed to eat, sleep, and remain healthy while on board, as well as their roles as part of a functioning warship.
On the upper decks are located the Bridge and cabins that were used by the senior officers when the ship was in action. Visit the operations room to get a taste of what it would be like during a battle. Radio signals would have passed through the Bridge Wireless office which could contain up to 14 signalers. Decks below the waterline include the Engine Room where the power to drive the ship was generated. At full power, the Belfast’s engines produced the same power as approximately 1,000 family cars. Also below the waterline is the most heavily protected part of the ship, the Shell Room. Visitors can look through hatches to see the Magazines and Handling Rooms, and will learn of the devastating consequences if this area of the ship received a hit.
As well being one of London’s top historical tourist attractions, HMS Belfast with its superb views along the Thames to such places as The Tower of London, and Tower Bridge, has developed into a popular destination for all sorts of public, private and business functions. The introduction of an Upper Deck bar as well as a café and the obligatory shop outdoor only adds to the user experience. This unique venue is also registered to hold weddings.