HMS Belfast is the only remaining example of British built cruisers and is the second ship of what was to be known as the Edinburgh Class. She was constructed by Harland and Wolff and launched on 17 March 1938, and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 5 August 1939. At the outbreak of war she was part of the 18th Cruiser Squadron, operating out of Scapa Flow. Her service was cut short when she detonated a mine on 21 November 1939 in the Firth of Forth. Damage was extensive and she was taken into dockyard hands, finally re-entering service in November 1942.
During her repair she was extensively refitted to the latest technology and joined the 10th Cruiser Squadron where she was soon in action in the Arctic convoys. She served in this arduous role during most of 1943, even joining in what was to become known as “The Battle of the Northern Cape.” Her next role was as a fire support ship at Normandy, providing support for the Canadian and British forces that were going ashore at Juno and Gold beaches. After D-Day she moved to the Far East but was only in time to assist in the repatriation of survivors of the Japanese labour and internment camp.
She spent a number of years in the far east, even lending fire support during the Korean War, returning home in 1952. An extensive refit was done on her and once again she went into far east service. However, the role of the large cruiser was limited and the writing was on the wall for large sections of the Royal Navy and in 1963 she was paid off into the reserve fleet. Disposal was scheduled for 1971 but she was rescued by the Imperial War Museum who wished to preserve a WW2 cruiser. In 1971 she was brought to London and opened to visitors for the first time.
I have been fortunate enough to see HMS Belfast on two occasions. The first being in 2008, the second in 2013. She is a magnificent vessel, and a credit to her builders, crew and those who have preserved her. The images here are a mix from both trips. in 2008 work was being done on her mast, but in 2013 this had been completed.