PhotogaleriesHMS BELFAST museum gallery 2 2023-05-06 Javier COMPASS PLATFORM: On the upper floor of the castle is the actual control center of HMS Belfast, the Compass Platform. All the operations of the ship are directed from this room. It is here where the Captain takes control of the ship and can direct any maneuver or combat action. COMPASS PLATFORM: The ship was steered from the Compass Platform and from here the Captain, also called “Officer of the watch”, gave the orders on the direction and speed necessary at all times. We can see the navigation officer’s position, on the left, and the Captain’s position, on the right. OPERATIONS ROOM: This room was the most important place on the ship during the fighting. It is located next to the Compass Platform, and from here all the actions to be carried out by the ship were directed. To do this, all intelligence reports, sonar and radar data and about the state of the ship were analyzed. It can be said that it is the nervous system of HMS Belfast. RADIO STATION ROOM: HMS Belfast had a complete radio communications equipment with different transmitters and receivers, as well as modern radar, IFF and electronic warfare equipment installed in another room called the Electronic Warfare Office. In this image we can see the transceiver room with UHF and VHF equipment. CABIN’S HALL: Inside the castle, under the Compass Platform were the rooms for the Captain of the ship and the Admiral and his staff. The arrangement of these rooms was planned to be as close as possible to the control system of the ship, both in missions and in naval exercises. CAPTAIN’S SEA CABIN: The Captain of the ship had two cabins, one called “day cabin” located in the stern of the ship, under the quarterdeck, and another, (on the image), called “Captain’s sea cabin”, located inside the castle, under the Compass Platform, in order to be as close as possible to the ship’s control center. ADMIRAL’S SEA CABIN: Like the Captain, the Fleet Admiral also had two cabins, located next to the Captain’s in the same places. In both cases it can be observed that although the cabins are functional, they are not endowed with luxury or more additions than necessary. OFFICER’S SEA CABIN: On a deck below the Captain’s and Admiral’s cabins, there were additional cabins for other ship’s officers. It can be seen that the available space was quite small, although at least they had some privacy after all. FORWARD MESSDECKS: Life on board was not very comfortable for the crew since they lived, ate and slept in common areas called “messes”. There were several distributed throughout the ship, although the lack of space meant that hammocks could be seen in almost any area of the ship. CAPSTAN MACHINERY SPACE (ANCHOR ROOM): In the forecastle, on a deck under the anchors is the “Cable Locker” from where the ship’s anchors were operated. The anchors could also be manually operated in emergencies, for which 144 men were needed. You can see some hammocks for the sailors placed on top of the mechanisms, because in a warship, the lack of space is an endemic problem that was tried to be solved in any possible way. PUNISHMENT CELL: At the forward end of the Capstan Machinery Space there are several “Punishment Cells”, where crew members who committed offenses such as getting drunk, falling asleep on watch or being absent from services were punished with up to 14-day sentences. Usually it was the Captain who imposed the penalties, which, having to be carried out in such a small and totally isolated space, must have been really painful. NAAFI CANTEEN: HMS Belfast had a kind of mini-market known as a “canteen”, where the crew could buy products such as tobacco, drinks, chocolates, toothpaste and many other items for daily use. No high-grade alcoholic beverages were sold, although a maximum of 2 cans of beer a day could be purchased, which were opened on the spot to avoid hoarding. OPERATING THEATRE: HMS Belfast, being a cruiser, offered more services on board than destroyers and frigates. She had an operating room with enough material to be able to perform emergency interventions, since the movement of the ship did not make it highly recommendable. The medical team consisted of 2 surgeons and 5 assistants, including a radiographer. DENTAL SURGERY: To supplement medical care, HMS Belfast had a dentist, usually a Lieutenant, on board. We could bet that he was the most respected member of the entire crew……especially on the high seas! CLINIC: The ship had a small space that served as a clinic, where up to 4 patients could be admitted. It was usual for the clinic to treat an entire task force during operations. SICKBAY: In this image you can see the general layout of the area for medical care known as “Sickbay”. This provision may not be the most appropriate according to current civil health standards, but considering that we are inside a warship, the important thing was to save their lives and allow them to reach the mainland to receive the necessary care. GENERAL MESSING: This service, US Navy style, was implemented after the modernization of the ship in the 50s and allowed crew members to eat in a common canteen. In the “general messing”, the food was prepared and served by qualified and professional personnel, which considerably increased the variety and quality of food on board. SHIP’S COMPANY GALLEY: The kitchen (galley) of HMS Belfast had to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for a minimum of 750 people daily. The job was really big, and not enough with that, it was usual for HMS Belfast to have to service smaller ships of the task force. SHIP’S COMPANY GALLEY: Food has always been a key factor in keeping crew morale high, and while it is true that in other times the necessary dedication was not provided, at least for sailors and lower ranks, fortunately all this has changed. However, kitchen tasks are still heavy work and not always sufficiently appreciated by others. BAKERY: The team of bakers was made up of 6 people who worked in different shifts 24 hours a day. The reason for this incessant activity was none other than having to supply bread to other smaller ships of the task force, which did not have the means to make the precious daily bread. HMS Belfast had to act as “mother” and supply this and other basic products to numerous ships during deployments. BEEF SCREEN: On board the ship were two Royal Marine butchers who were in charge of the refrigerated Galley Ready Use Store. The image shows said pantry with different pieces of meat prepared for immediate consumption. POTATO STORE: Here we can see one of the three cats on board in full action. This time the hunt took place in the potato store. Royal Navy ships carried cats to prevent rodent infestations until 1975, some of them being decorated for their services. This was the case for Simon, the ship’s cat of HMS Amethyst, who was posthumously awarded the “Dickin Medal” and buried with naval honors. SOUND REPRODUCTION EQUIPMENT ROOM (SRE): After the 1959 modernization of HMS Belfast, it was decided to set up a small room to broadcast radio programs and music in order to entertain the crew at various times. LAUNDRY: For most of HMS Belfast‘s career, crew members had to wash their own clothes. This was done in buckets and other more or less adequate utensils, but during the modernization of 1956-59 it was decided to install a laundry. During the periods in which the ship was stationed in the Far East, it was common to recruit Chinese personnel to work on it. LAUNDRY: Here you can see the back of the laundry. We can assume that this work must have been quite heavy and hard due to the narrowness of the small space and the large number of crew members on board. FORWARD BOILER ROOM: The HMS Belfast propulsion system was assembled in the US Navy style, that is, the grouping of boilers and engines in pairs. Therefore, the ship had 4 independent cross-connected groups, 2 forward and 2 aft. This way the ship would only lose a maximum of 50% of her power plant for a single hit. The ship had 4 Admiralty boilers equipped with 3-drums each, two drums filled with water were located in the lower part to generate the steam, and another drum was in the top of the boiler to collect the generated steam. OIL FUEL BURNERS: HMS Belfast‘s boilers burned a heavy oil mixture known as “Furnace Fuel Oil (FFO)”. With this fuel, super-heated pressurized steam was generated, which was conducted through pipes to the turbine engines that finally moved the propeller shafts. At maximum speed the ship consumed 26 tons of FFO per hour. The image shows a set of 7 oil fuel burners from one of the boilers. FORWARD ENGINE ROOM: From the Forward Engine Room the two outer propeller shafts were driven by the two turbine engines placed here. Each turbine engine generated 20,000 shp and had four different turbine rotors. There were two large high and low pressure turbines that developed full power ahead. In addition there was a small cruising turbine for more economical cruising speeds and an astern turbine. FORWARD ENGINE ROOM: The super-heated steam generated in the boilers was directed to the desired turbine rotors through several control throtles. Finally the propeller shafts were moved through a gear-box mechanism that was coupled to each engine. This main machinery was complemented by a steam-powered turbo-generator and several evaporators that distilled seawater for the boilers and for general use. TURBINE ROTOR: This is the turbine rotor and gearbox mechanism of the starboard outer engine located in the Forward Engine Room. The piece of metal seen at the top of the image is a gear cover that is raised so that visitors can appreciate the intricate mechanism. It is truly impressive to see such engineering works in the first person, even after almost a century has passed since its design and manufacture. SHIP’S COMPANY WASHROOMS: Here we can see a washroom for the general use of the crew. SHIP’S COMPANY SHOWERS: Next to the washrooms there are several showers for general use of the crew. COMMON BEDROOM: Next to the showers there is a kind of bedroon for the crew where several bunk beds and lockers can be seen. COMMON MACHINE SHOP: General view of the ship’s machine workshop, with a good assortment of machines with which to carry out minor repairs. This space is not just a decorative part, but is still used by the maintenance staff of the museum.