|HMS Belfast & Tower Bridge|
|Sailing Barge passing HMS Belfast|
The largest historic ship on the Thames is HMS Belfast, a town class cruiser that is maintained in the Pool of London by the Imperial War Museum. She was built by Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the connection obviously stuck. Accepted into the Royal Navy in August 1939 just in time for WW2 she got of to a bad start, hitting a sea mine in November that same year, she was out of it for repairs until August 1942, a long repair that had her return with better guns, armour and radar she did escort duties in the arctic for convoys going tot he Soviet Union in 1943. In December 1943 she took part in the battle of the North Cape where the German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk. In 1944 she took part in operation Overlord, the D-day landings.
Thereafter sent to the Pacific area, she arrived just before wars end. Her final actions were in the Korean war. She left the Royal Navy in August 1963 and nearly got scrapped but was saved by the HMS Belfast Trust in 1971 after the government ignored efforts to have her restored and kept as a museum ship. Tight sods. She then became part of the Imperial War Museum in 1978. I went on her a few times in the 1980's myself.
It's not unusual to see visiting warships or cruise liners tied up next to her, this is because her Jetty that keeps her in deep water whatever the tide is the only one left that's up to the job, she therefore makes other things possible.
She has been in the news recently, in November 2011 a pedestrian gangway was being repaired when this went tits up and it fell in the river, two workmen had slight injuries, but I think the reaction was way over the top myself, even though I flew down to the river to make a video (see below) when I heard the news flash. She is due to reopen after Easter..wow, that took long time!