Royal Navy

We’re on a boat: London’s HMS Belfast

Museum Monday: London’s HMS Belfast

For Museum Monday, we’re highlighting the HMS Belfast. This is a historic warship and a 9-deck floating museum permanently moored in London on the River Thames.

The Royal Navy ship is named after the Northern Ireland city of Belfast and is operated as one of the Imperial War Museums’ 5 sites.

The ship was launched on St. Patrick’s Day in March 1938 and saw action during World War II and the Korean War

Visitors should wear sturdy shoes and arrive ready for a workout. You’ll walk the ship’s nine decks and climb up and down steep ladders while learning about the ship’s role in naval history and the daily life of sailors that served on board.

What You’ll See on the HMS Belfast

Visitors to the HMS Belfast will get to see, and in some cases, experience areas of the ship that include giant machine rooms, the gun turret, and the Operations Room (with simulated radars, equipment lights, and touchscreen plotting table). Below the Water line is where the shell room, boiler room, and engine room are located.

950 people at a time lived and worked on the ship, so you’ll also see the ship’s mess deck, chapel, radio station, medical bay, dentist’s office, and bakery.

Ngaire Bushell, from the Imperial War Museum Public Engagement and Learning Team

Most visitors to the HMS Belfast take self-guided tours with the aid of the audio tour included in admission.

But because we were tagging along with Gatwick Airport mascot, Gary Gatwick, our ship guide was the nimble and knowledgeable Ngaire Bushell, a producer from the Imperial War Museum’s Public Engagement and Learning Team.

She not only knows everything about the history of the HMS Belfast and all its nooks and crannies but has met many sailors who served on the ship over time.

Planning an HMS Belfast visit? Here’s a short video about exhibits and experiences added and updated while the attraction was closed during the pandemic.