I was staying in a hotel on the North side of the River Thames for a two day course and took this photograph during an after dinner walk across Tower Bridge and along the river front.
She is one of ten Town Class Light Cruisers and was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast as Yard Number 1000. Construction work started in December 1936 and she was launched in March 1938 by Anne Chamberlain wife of the Prime Minister before being commissioned in August 1939.
The Town Class originated in 1933 as a response to the Imperial Japanese Navy's Mogami Class Cruiser. The Admiralty requirement was for a 9000 ton cruiser, sufficiently armoured to take a direct hit from an 8-Inch shell, capable of 32 knots ,mounting twelve 6 Inch guns, capable of its own air defence and carrying a seaplane to ensure shipping lanes to be patrolled over a wide area.
HMS Belfast is of the Second Town Class dating to 1935 which had improved firepower in triple turrets and thicker deck armour.
Originally she was 187m long with a 19.3m beam and 5.3m draft. She was propelled by three drum fired water tube boilers, turning Parsons steam turbines, driving four propeller shafts. She had a maximum range of over 8600 nautical miles at 13 Knots and a top speed of 32.5 Knots.
Her armament originally consisted of twelve Mark XXIII 6 Inch guns in four triple turrets, secondary armament included twelve 4 Inch guns in six twin mounts and sixteen 2 Pounders in two eight barrel mountings for air defence in addition to two quadruple 0.50 inch machine guns. Belfast was also equipped with six MK IV 6 Inch torpedo tubes and Mark VII depth charges.
Her main armour belt was 110mm thick with 76mm thick armour on deck, the armour on her main turrets is 100mm thick.
In November 1939 she struck a German mine and spent two years undergoing extensive repairs, returning to active service in November 1942 with improved firepower, radar equipment and armour she saw service escorting Arctic convoys to Russia and played a role in the Battle of North Cape assisting in the destruction of the German warship Scharnhorst. In 1944 she took part in Operation Overlord supporting the Normandy Landings. In June 1945 she was redeployed to the Far East to join the British Pacific Fleet and saw action in 1950-1952 during the Korean War.
Extensively modernised between 1956 and 1959 she served for a number of years before entering the reserve in 1963.
She is now a museum ship.