HMS Belfast: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the HMS Belfast.

  • She was launched in 1938 and was originally part of the British Naval blockade against Germany during World War II. Towards the end of the war she saw service in the Far East.
  • The ship was 187 metres long, had a width of 19 metres and could travel at about 60 kmh. She carried over 12 large guns, as well as torpedoes and depth charges.
  • During World War II, she was the most powerful Navy cruiser. She intercepted a German battleship disguised as a neutral ship, and sunk the German battleship Scharnhorst in the freezing Arctic.
  • HMS Belfast is one of only three surviving bombardment ships which supported the D-Day Normandy Landings in 1944. The two other ships are museum ships in the United States.

HMS Belfast

  • During the D-day Landings, she spent a month in the area, firing over 5,000 shells. The vibrations from firing the guns cracked some of the toilets on board the ship.
  • The ship carried two Supermarine Walrus biplanes. They were launched from the deck by a large catapult and picked up out of the water with a large crane.
  • HMS Belfast became part of the United Nations naval forces during the Korean War. During this time she sailed over 130,000 km and was hit by enemy fire only once.
  • In 1956 HMS Belfast was modernized, including added defenses against nuclear or chemical weapons. In 1961 she took part in independence celebrations for the African country of Tanganyika.
  • HMS Belfast opened as a museum in 1971 and over one and a half million people had visited by 1975. She became part of the Imperial War Museum in 1978.
  • Controversially, the HMS Belfast was airbrushed out of a 2012 London Olympics poster. The poster showed an aerial view of the River Thames, but the famous battleship was missing.

SS Great Britain: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the SS Great Britain.

  • The SS Great Britain was a 19th century passenger ship, and the first steamship to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.

  • She is moored as a museum ship in Bristol, in southwest England.
  • She was the first ship to combine screw propulsion with an iron hull.
  • The ship measured 98 metres long, almost 10 metres high and had a propeller almost 5 metres in diameter.
  • She was designed by the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Brunel also designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, and several viaducts on the Great Western Railway.

SS Great Britain

  • The SS Great Britain first sailed from Liverpool to New York on July 26th, 1845. She made the trip in a record 15 days, averaging a speed of 17 kmh.
  • The ship was designed to carry 360 passengers in luxury, and 130 crew. The interior featured large mirrors, decorated gold columns and a dining room large enough to seat all passengers at once.
  • The SS Great Britain made several more trips across the Atlantic during the 1840s. On one trip, she ran aground on the Irish coast, and was stranded for almost a year.
  • In 1852, the SS Great Britain made her first trip to Melbourne, Australia. Thousands of people each paid a shilling to inspect her when she arrived there.
  • She sailed between England and Australia for the next 30 years. On a typical trip she would carry 600 passengers, 36 sheep, almost 100 goats and 1,000 chickens and turkeys.
  • In 1882, she was converted into a cargo ship, working around the Falkland Islands. She remained there until 1937, being used for storing coal, and as a quarantine ship.
  • During World War I she supplied coal to British ships, and in World War II, some of her iron was used for repairs to other ships.
  • In 1970 she was towed back to Bristol to become a museum.