HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast (99)

This key piece of the Imperial War Museum is anchored in the waters of the Thames, close to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. 

Launched in 1938, the fabulous destroyer had an outstanding role during the Second World War. The role it played in the destruction of the German battleship Scharnhorst during the Battle of North Cape is well known. However, it achieved its main merits during the Normandy landing. On the morning of D-day, on the 6th of June 1944, it supported the amphibian troops that advanced on the beaches.

It later undertook missions in the most remote corners of the planet, transporting its 950 crew members wherever they were required. This included its use by the United Nations in the Korean War.

Given its historical relevance, when the Royal Navy withdrew it from active service in 1965 it was turned into a floating naval museum. Today the vessel is dedicated to explaining what life was like for the sailors on board, above all during the Second World War. For this reason, part of the exhibition reproduces the appearance of the boat during this period. 

Among its different decks you will be able to discover, apart from the historical and military events, curious details such as until 1975 cats would be taken on board to control the rodent population or that the Royal Navy has traditionally been on of the only sections of the British armed forces that allows its members to grow a beard.

Since 1978, when it came to form part of the Imperial War Museum, HMS Belfast has had more than 250,000 visits. A large part of these are school visits, whose pupils are pleased to be able to get such a direct view of naval history. The experience of visiting the destroyer can be made even more stimulating due to the Kip in a ship programme, which enables groups of up to 50 children to spend 3 days and nights aboard the vessel.

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