HMS Belfast (C35)

The HMS Belfast (Pennant number C35) is a light cruiser of the Class Town, Edinburgh type of the British Royal Navy. Built at the Harland and Wolff of Belfast, servizo entered into in August 1939 shortly before the outbreak of World War II. In November, the impact with a German mine forced the ship in the pipeline for long repairs. Back in action towards the end of 1942, was initially escorted the Arctic convoys headed to the northern ports of the ‘Soviet Union in 1943, and then participated in the Battle of North Cape. Later, she provided fire support to landing forces on the beaches of Gold and Juno during ‘Operation Neptune and later participated in the Korean War. After being modernized between 1956 and 1959, he participated in a series of missions around the world. After being decommissioned in 1963 it seemed that his destiny was to be dismantled for the recovery of materials, but, after a campaign organized by a private entity, and after requests by Rear Admiral Sir Morgan Morgan-Giles, formerly commander of the ship, was and transformed into a museum ship is moored in London on the Thames, close to Tower Bridge, from 21 October 1971 (anniversary of Trafalgar Day).


The Town class cruisers were designed to not exceed 10,000 tons, according to the dictates of the Washington Naval Treaty. The original plan quadruple pieces of 152 mm, but because of problems encountered during construction were used the advanced versions of the guns already used to triple the previous subclasses. The savings in terms of mass due to the change of arms and armor in the armament was reinvested in the air raid.

The Belfast was launched on St. Patrick’s Day (17 March) of 1938 at the Harland and Wolff of Belfast by Anne Chamberlain, the wife of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. The total cost of the ship was of 2,141,514 pounds, of which 75,000 to 66,500 for the guns and naval aircraft. Entered service in August 1939 under the command of Captain GA Scott and was assigned to the 18th Cruiser Squadron.


During the Second World War

At the beginning of the war the 18th Cruiser Squadron was one of the ships involved in the effort undertaken by the British to impose a naval blockade to the Germans. During this mission, the Belfast managed to intercept the liner Cap Norte October 9, 1939 while trying to return to Germany pretending to be neutral ship.

At one o’clock of November 21, 1939 was then severely damaged, while abandoning the Firth of Forth, from the impact with a magnetic mine dropped from November 4 German submarine U-21 commanded by Fritz Kapitänleutnant Frauenheim. The incident caused the wounding of 21 men of the crew and the mine opened a gash in the keel, hull and machinery damage so severe that repairs made ​​to Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Devonport demanded three years’ work.

The cruiser is riaggregò to the Home Fleet in November 1942 under the command of Captain Frederick Parham. During the repair, improvements were also implemented on the ship, such as enlargement of the central body to give it more strength and longitudinal stability and the installation of the most modern devices and fire control radar. the total mass increased from 11175 to 11553 tons, making it the heaviest Belfast light cruiser of the British fleet.

He then became the flagship of the 10th Cruiser Squadron, under the command of Rear Admiral Robert Burnett, with the mission of escorting Arctic convoys bound for the Soviet Union. On December 26, 1943, in what became known as the Battle of North Cape, the squadron, which included in addition to the Norfolk Belfast and Sheffield, collided with the ‘German battle cruiser Scharnhorst and Gneisenau class, with the’ help of the battleship HMS Duke of York, he was able to sink.

The Belfast also participated at ‘Operation Tungsten in March 1944, a major attack aircraft based on aircraft carriers concentrated on the German battleship Tirpitz, which after the hunt Bismarck was the only major German ship still at sea, and was docked Altafjord in the northern part of Norway. The Tirpitz was hit by bombs and fifteen was heavily damaged, but survived the crash.

In June 1944, the cruiser took part in the bombardment of enemy positions in preparation for Operation Neptune, that is the phase of landing of ‘Operation Overlord, in the role of flagship of Bombardment Force E. Then, as part of the Eastern Naval Task Force, with the responsibility to cover the landing of British and Canadian troops on the beaches of Gold and Juno, was one of the first ships to open fire on the French coast at 5:30 June 6, 1944.

For the next five weeks, the Belfast was practically still in operation, firing thousands of bullets from its batteries of 100 and 152 mm, in support of the movements of the infantry to the front as they moved inland. The last shot was fired on July 8 during the ‘Operation Charnwood, the battle for the capture of Caen, in which, along with the battleship HMS Rodney and the ironclad gunboat HMS Roberts had the task of breaking down the German positions.

Two days later he returned to Devonport for a short refueling before moving into the Pacific, where he joined to ‘Operation Zipper, initially intended to drive out the Japanese from British Malaya, but became a rescue operation after the surrender of Japan.

During the last days of the war in Europe the ship, stationed in the North Sea, ended up in the crosshairs of a German submarine without being able to locate it. The enemy commander, to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, as the war was winding down, he decided to save the ship and not to open fire.

After the war

The Belfast he served in the Korean War, in support of landing forces of the United Nations. In July 1952 it was hit by shots of a North Korean battery, which killed one man and injured four others.

The Belfast was modernized between January 1956 and May 1959. All anti-aircraft weapons (ie guns from 100 and 40 mm) were removed and replaced with more modern weapons of the same caliber. Even all the instrumentation and radar installed during the Second World War were replaced. Finally, the original bridge was rebuilt and insulated to cope with any chemical-bacteriological or nuclear attacks the original tripod trees were replaced with new trees in latex. A similar solution was implemented on the new Tiger class cruisers.

Until 1962, the ship operated in the Far East for exercises and diplomatic missions. In December 1961, provided the guard of honor in Dar-es-Salaam during the ceremony of independence of Tanganyika.

He left Singapore March 26, 1962 in the United Kingdom at a time, one last time to visit Belfast. After a final exercise in the Mediterranean was decommissioned 24 August 1963.

Museum ship

In 1967, the ‘Imperial War Museum began to think about the possibility to save a turret from 152 mm to add to the pair of cannons 381 mm BL already possessed. After a visit to HMS Gambia (April 14) the hypothesis became that of preserving an entire ship. The Gambia, however, it was already too deteriorated for the purpose, and so the attention is focused on trying to save the Belfast. A committee that included representatives of the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Ministry of Defence, concluded in June 1968 that the project was feasible. At the dawn of 1971, however, the government decided otherwise.

Nevertheless, a private association met to continue its efforts to preserve the ship. The HMS Belfast Trust was chaired by Rear Admiral Sir Morgan Morgan-Giles DSO OBE CM, former commander of the ship and Member of Parliament. Following the action of the Trust, the Government decided to sell the ship to the association, which was open to the public at the Trafalgar Day (21 October) 1971. Although it was no longer part of the Royal Navy, HMS Belfast was granted a derogation which enabled her to continue to hoist the White Ensign. Towards the late ’70s, however, the financial condition of the Trust was very bad, and the Imperial War Museum asked permission to absorb the association. On 19 January 1978 the Secretary of State for Education and Science, Shirley Williams, accepted the proposal stating that.

The ownership of the vessel was then transferred to the Museum 1 March 1978.

After moving to London, the Belfast has been pulled out of the water twice to make repairs that would allow the long-term preservation. In 1982 repairs were made ​​to Tilbury, and in June 1999 in Portsmouth. The first review involved the cleaning and sanding the hull, inspection of welds and an ultrasound tests for cracks. The control of Portsmouth is remembered because, planned for the anniversary of the Normandy landings on June 6, 1999, was postponed by one day due to bad weather.

Later, Belfast was also repainted in a pattern of mimicry officially known as Admiralty Disruptive Camouflage Type 25, identical to what he had covered the ship in the period between November 1942 and July 1944. Some belied the change of anachronism, because he remembered the livery of the Second World War, while the current configuration of the ship comes from heavy changes between January 1956 and May 1959.

The cannons starboard are focused on the area of service London Gateway services, in North London on the M1 Motorway, at a distance of more than 18 km from the ship. This choice allows tourists to appreciate the great flow of arms.

In popular culture

•HMS Belfast is mentioned in the story Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, where it is used as a temporary rental market from London Below (London below), an underground community of imaginary magicians and fantastic creatures.

•Sebastian Foucan jumped from the bridge to the tower of the guns used in an exhibition of Free Running for the 2003 documentary Jump London.

•The Belfast briefly appeared in many films. Harry Potter flies alongside the vessel shall Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and it can be observed in the aerial shots of the Thames within the film Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

•A video clip of the song People Are People Depeche Mode shows excerpts of footage of war scenes in Belfast, and for a few seconds, the same members of the band are taken on board.

•The album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash by The Pogues was presented aboard the HMS Belfast in August 1985.

•The Belfast has starred in an episode of Heavy Metal History Channel in 2003. In addition, she was featured in the documentary series Massive Engines Chris Barrie.

•The HMS Belfast was the scene for a show of Spandau Ballet in 1980. The band has come back on board March 25, 2009 to announce its meeting.

•The HMS Belfast has been the subject of the video for Depeche Mode People Are People of 1984, under the direction of Clive Richardson.

•The HMS Belfast was the venue of the press conference when it was announced the choice of Daniel Craig to play James Bond in the 2006 film Casino Royale. The actor came on board after a spectacular race aboard a speedboat military promotional purposes.

Town Class (cruiser 1936)

Cruisers of the Royal Navy

Military boats of World War II

Museum ships

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