SS Nomadic

Passenger Tender built 1910 by Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast

Ensign House flag

2053

National Historic Fleet


Passenger Vessel

Ferry


Passenger Tender

Belfast


Undergoing Restoration

Museum: floating


No

No


27/07/2007

04/06/2013



Gallery


Propulsion

Engine

Steam compound


1910

None


None

1910


Dimensions

To be confirmed

37.00 feet (11.29 metres)


233.00 feet (71.06 metres)

7.00 feet (2.13 metres)


1273.00


History

SS NOMADIC was commissioned by the White Star Line as a tender to the ‘Olympic’ class transatlantic liners. The port at Cherbourg was too small to accommodate the Olympic class liners so two tender ships (SS NOMADIC and SS TRAFFIC) were stationed in the port, ready to rendezvous with the liners while they were at sea. The keel of SS NOMADIC (yard number 422) was laid by Harland and Wolff (H&W) in Belfast on 22 December 1910.

She was fitted with two H&W built compound steam engines which gave her a top speed of 12 knots. SS NOMADIC was launched from slip number one, Queens Island, Belfast on 25 April 1911 (OLYMPIC was built on slip number two and TITANIC on slip number three).

After the launch, she was fitted out in the Hamilton Graving Dock in the Abercorn Basin in Belfast and was delivered to White Star Line on 27 May 1911. Later in the same year, she sailed to Cherbourg to commence her duties. On 10 April 1912, NOMADIC delivered 142 passengers to TITANIC, including Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon and Benjamin Guggenheim. In the latter stages of World War One, NOMADIC was requisitioned and sent to Brest where she served as an American troopship. At the end of the war, she returned to Cherbourg where she continued to tend the transatlantic liners.

In 1927, White Star Line sold SS NOMADIC to the Compagnie Cherbourgeoise de Transborde-ment (CCT) and her intended career ended in 1934 when the new enlarged Port at Cherbourg was opened. She was then sold to The Societe Cherbourgeoise de Sauvetage et de Remorquage (SCSR) and renamed INGENIEUR MINARD. At the start of World War Two when France was under threat of invasion, NOMADIC evacuated British soldiers and others from Cherbourg and then made her way to Portsmouth where she was requisitioned by the British. She spent the remainder of the war in Government control as a coastal patrol vessel and minelayer and eventually returned to France for scrap. However, she was saved by the Manager of SCSR. In a twist of fate, the Port of Cherbourg had been destroyed and tender ships were once again essential. This time, she tended the likes of QUEEN MARY and QUEEN ELIZABETH.

This rejuvenated career ended on 4 November 1968. SS NOMADIC (whose original name had been reinstated) lay idle for five years. She was then sold to Mr Yvon Vincent who made extensive modifications to her including removal of the superstructure, funnel and engines and installed concrete ballast, a 100 seat auditorium and dance floor (which still remain). Many of the grand fixtures and fittings had gone missing by this stage. SS NOMADIC finally arrived in Paris on 17 October 1974 and moored opposite the Eiffel Tower. There she became a floating restaurant until she was forced to move to Le Havre by the French authorities. She was temporarily ‘listed’ by the French for one year and, following Mr Vincent’s death in March 2005, the French authorities requested NOMADIC be auctioned. However, the auction produced no bids.

At a later second auction held in Paris on 26 January 2006, she was bought by the Department of Social Development Northern Ireland (DSDNI) and transported back to Belfast on a barge. Restoration was due to be carried out and, pending this, NOMADIC was moored in the water at Queen Quay and then Barnets Dock in Belfast. In June 2006, Titanic Quarter Ltd and the Port of Belfast announced they would fund the refurbisment of the Hamilton Graving Dock to serve as a home for NOMADIC while she was being preserved and in 2009, she was moved there to complete a conservation management plan to move forward her restoration project.

Significance

SS NOMADIC is unique in that she is the last surviving vessel of the world famous White Star Line. She made history on 10 April 1912 when she brought passengers from Cherbourg to RMS TITANIC on her ill-fated maiden voyage. As we approach the century of the world’s most famous liner, she is a reminder of the great ship. Over the years, she also carried many renowned personalities to trans-Atlantic liners. On 25 April 1917, NOMADIC was mobilised to assist in the First World War effort. She was directed to Brest where she ferried US troops from the troop carriers to the shore. Today she is still in remarkable condition despite changes that occurred during the remarkable and varied career. Many of her original fittings remain.

Previous names

  1. 1934 – Ingenieur Minard

Subsequent developments

2007/2008 A Sustainability Award of £2000 was made to ss NOMADIC from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships to cover the costs of a survey. Source: National Historic Ships.

2009 A programme for her preservation and restoration is currently being established under the control of the NOMADIC Charitable Trust (NCT). Specialist consultants are being engaged to compile a conservation management plan and to oversee the work when it commences. In the meantime, a team of volunteers are actively undertaking maintenance and initial stripping work. Source: Sean Neeson, Advisory Committee, March 2009.

August 2009 NOMADIC has now been moved to the Hamilton Dry Dock. She has recently been awarded a grant of £2 million and NCT are currently completing a conservation management plan. They hope to have this in place by September and will then move forward with the restoration project. Source: Sean Neeson, Advisory Committee, August 2009.

Key dates

  1. 1910-11 Built by Harland & Wolff for  the White Star Line
  2. 1911 Sailed to Cherbourg to commence her duties
  3. 1912 Delivered 142 passengers to TITANIC, including Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon, and Benjamin Guggenheim
  4. 1916 Requisitioned and sent to Brest as an American troopship
  5. 1918 Returned to Cherbourg and continued to tend transatlantic liners
  6. 1927 Sold to the Compagnie Cherbourgeoise de Transborde-ment (CCT)
  7. 1927-34 Continued to operate as a tender
  8. 1934 Sold to The Societe Cherbourgeoise de Sauvetage et de Remorquage (SCSR) and renamed INGENIEUR MINARD
  9. 1940 Evacuated British soldiers and others from Cherbourg, making her way to Portsmouth where she was requisitioned
  10. 1940-45 Served as a coastal patrol vessel and minelayer.  Returned to France for scrap, but was saved by the Manager of SCSR
  11. 1945-68 Tended liners including QUEEN MARY and QUEEN ELIZABETH and was renamed SS NOMADIC
  12. 1968-73 Lay idle
  13. 1973 Sold to Mr Yvon Vincent who made extensive modifications including removal of the superstructure, funnel and engines and installation of concrete ballast, a 100 seat auditorium and dance floor
  14. 1974 Arrived in Paris and moored opposite the Eiffel Tower as a floating restaurant
  15. 2005 Auctioned by the French authorities following Mr Vincent’s death
  16. 2006 Bought by the Department of Social Development Northern Ireland (DSDNI) at a second auction and transported to Belfast for restoration
  17. 2006 Titanic Quarter Ltd and the Port of Belfast announced funding for the refurbishment of the Hamilton Graving Dock to serve as her home during restoration
  18. 2008 Nomadic Preservation Society formed
  19. 2008  A Sustainability Award of £2000 was made from the National Historic Ships Strategic Development Fund to cover the costs of a survey
  20. 2009 Moved to the Hamilton Dock.

Bibliography

  1. unknown The Lone Star
  2. 1986 Shipbuilders to the World - 125 years of Harland and Wolff, Belfast 1861-1986 - Michael Moss & John R. Hume
  3. 2000 Nomadic - Jean Charles Arnault
  4. 2008 The Belfast Child - SS Nomadic - Mervyn Pritchard
If you are the owner of the vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

copper fastened:

a vessel whose plank fastenings are of copper rather than iron