HMS Caroline

I was so thrilled to bits to be able to tour the HMS Caroline ( As a youngster I’ve marvelled at her and have always wanted to see her in her glory-I got my chance!!! 

She was built and launched in 1914 and is one of a few surviving ships to have served in the Battle of Jutland (off west coast of Denmark) in 1916. It took me about two hours to go around the vessel and see, hear, feel, experience the amazing audio visual as well as interactive features. 

All classes of sailor from Captain right down to ordinary sailor had to eat, sleep and serve in her. At its height some 500-800 men called her home. It was remarkable to see the facilities, service and lifestyles of captain and top brass, middle officers and ordinary sailors. It took lots of courage to be on board in battle!!

Men from all walks of life were on board. From officers to ordinary seamen, from doctors to engineers and carpenters, not to mention the cooks and clerical officers and marines. All could engage in warfare at the sound of a siren!!

Above shows the work of the code breakers and communication specialists, whilst below shows the ship and her bridge instruments.

The exterior of the vessel served many functions. It was the battlefield, excercise yard, laundry deck and fresh air. Conditions would have been very claustrophobic and smelly down below!!

There was a big engineering department which looked after the heating of the ship (coal boilers), the maintenance and of course it’s propulsion provided by 4 huge oil boilers which heated water, created steam and provided the propulsion.

All this made for hungry work and depending on rank depended on quality and delivery of food. Imagine not having freezers and fridges!! Below are pictures of the food and the galley (kitchen).

Above shows the mess deck cafe where you can purchase drinks, cold and hot foods and eat it where sailors ate 100 years ago! There is also a gift shop on board.

The Battle of Jutland was a battle that lasted 36 hours, killed over twice as many British Sailors (6094) as Germans (2551) and yet Britain claimed victory!! War is bad!!

On a lighter note after she was retired from active combat duty she came to Belfast and was a teaching vessel. Modifications were made ie the Drill Hall (which served as a night club many moons ago and is now the home to a fantastic audio visual display. It can also be hired out for dining functions of up to 150 people). Once decommissioned she fell into decay and it’s great to see that after a £14 million refurb she’s back to beauty. Definitely work coming to see….and there’s free parking!!

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