Royal Navy’s World War I cruiser HMS Caroline has returned to Alexandra Dock in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter following repairs to her hull.
During the work at Harland and Wolff’s Heavy Industries Dock, the sole surviving vessel from the Battle of Jutland had 1,700 rivets repaired.
At the peak of the work, 14 teams of welders were repairing one rivet every 90 seconds.
Tonnes of barnacles were blasted off her hull before having a marine-grade paint scheme applied. It was the first time in 32 years that the ship had been out of the water.
The veteran light cruiser opened to the public in June, a day after the centenary commemorations for the WW1 battle, but vital work on her hull was delayed in order to capture summer visitors, with 16,000 people going aboard in five months to witness the result of her £15m restoration project.
She was one of more than 150 British warships that locked horns with the Kaiser’s High Seas Fleet in the North Sea at Jutland, when she charged at the German lines on at least one occasion to unleash torpedoes.
The ship, which was nicknamed Lucky Caroline, was one of the fastest afloat in her day and during Jutland was used as a scout and escaped any major damage.
She was later taken to Belfast and used as a drill training ship and even a Naval operations headquarters during WW2.
Repairs to the ship which displaces 4,000 tonnes and is 122 metres long were completed last year, making the ship safe for the next stage of restoration.
Caroline boasts the accolade of being the most accessible ship in the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s collection, thanks to the installation of three glass lifts giving access to three of her decks.