HMS Belfast is a World War II light cruiser built by Harland & Wolff of Belfast. Launched in 1938, she was commissioned in 1939 and saw early service in northern waters assisting the blockade of Germany. Unfortunately, within 5 months of seeing service, she was damaged by a mine in the Firth of Forth putting her out of action for three years.
On return to service, she was tasked to protect the arctic convoys and was involved in the battle to sink the Scharnhorst. She continued with the convoys until 1944 when she was repositioned to take part in the D-Day landings, reputedly firing the first shots of the action.
She saw service in the Korean War between 1950 and 1952, and then on peacekeeping duties until her retirement in 1963.
The Imperial War Museum was interested in preserving her and a trust was set up. She opened to the public in 1971.
Public access is to almost all areas including engineroom, boiler-room and bridge. There are audio guides available that produce an excellent tour, but one may wander freely in all accessible areas if preferred.