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HMS Belfast celebrates 75th anniversary

A bottle of champagne was broken against the bow of HMS Belfast on Friday morning to mark the 75th anniversary of the ship's launch at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

HMS Belfast
Victoria Borwick
Deputy Mayor of London Victoria Borwick meets members of the City of London Sea Cadets who train on board HMS Belfast
Admiral Lord West
Admiral Lord West chats to Alderman Gavin Robinson, Lord Mayor of Belfast
HMS Belfast celebrates 75th anniversary
The Lord Mayor of Belfast presents a gift from Harland and Wolff
HMS Belfast celebrates 75th anniversary
Veterans and Sea Cadets assemble on deck
HMS Belfast celebrates 75th anniversary
The Lord Mayor and Deputy Mayor prepare to break the champagne bottle

Alderman Gavin Robinson, Lord Mayor of Belfast, and Victoria Borwick, Deputy Mayor of London, broke a bottle of champagne over the ship's bow to mark the start of a weekend of celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the ship's launch on St Patrick's Day 1938.

HMS Belfast – which saw action in World War II – has been moored on the Thames upstream of Tower Bridge for more than half its history, having arrived in London in 1971.

"I've worked for the last five years just a few steps away at City Hall, and we all enjoy the magnificent sight of HMS Belfast; one of the iconic sights of London," said Victoria Borwick AM.

"It's vitally important that we cherish these reminders of our past and that's one of the reasons that today is such a day of celebration."

HMS Belfast director Phil Reed assured guests that the ship will be around for many years to come: "It's a difficult vessel to maintain, and the Imperial War Museum has a programme for doing that, but we are committed to this ship being here for decades ... centuries, basically."

Friday's ceremony was also attended by Admiral Lord West, former First Sea Lord, veterans who served on the ship, City of London Sea Cadets and crew members of HMS Westminster which is currently berthed alongside HMS Belfast.

HMS Belfast's new land-side building – which will include a ticket office, shop, cafe and bar – is nearing completion.

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