Nomadic arrived in Cherbourg in June of 1911. Her function was to ferry (tender) passengers and baggage to and from the docks to the larger ships that required deep water ports which Cherbourg didn't have. On April 10, 1912 Nomadic transported 274 passengers to Titanic for the doomed liner's maiden voyage.
During World War I, Nomadic was requisitioned by the French government and she saw service as an auxiliary minesweeper and patrol ship, also ferrying American troops to and from the harbor in Brest (France). After the war, she returned to her tendering duties, but in 1927 she was sold and continued to tender under the ownership of the Compagnie Cherbourgeoise de Transbordement.
Following the 1934 merger of White Star and Cunard Line and the opening of the enlarged port at Cherbourg, Nomadic ceased her tendering duties. She was sold to the Société Cherbourgeoise de Sauvetage et de Remorquage (SCSR or Cherbourg Tow & Rescue Society) and renamed Ingenieur Minard.
The (former) White Star Line tender SS Nomadic picking up passengers from the Queen Mary in Cherbourg France, 1968.
Nomadic again saw service during during World War II. On June 18, 1940 she took part in the evacuation of Cherbourg. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and stationed in Portsmouth harbor where she operated as a troop ship, coastal patrol vessel, and a minelayer for the remainder of the war.
During the war, Cherbourg port was heavily damaged, so large ocean liners could no longer dock there. Nomadic returned to tendering duties for the SCSR from Cherbourg. She served the great ocean liners of the day, such as the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth. She finally retired from these duties in November 1968.
Nomadic lay idle for five years but was eventually purchased by a man named Yvon Vincent. In 1974, her main bridge and fly bridges were removed and she was converted into a floating restaurant located on the Seine River in Paris. By 1999, the business was in financial difficulties and Nomadic was seized by the Paris harbor authorities in 2002. The authorities removed more of Nomadic's superstructure in order to tow her below the Seine's bridges and she was towed out of Paris to Le Havre.
Following Vincent’s death in 2005, the authorities attempted to find a buyer for Nomadic, and if none could be found, she was to be scrapped. On learning of her fate, heritage and maritime enthusiasts (including the French Titanic Society, Belfast Industrial Heritage, Belfast Titanic Society and the Save Nomadic appeal) began campaigns to raise funds to buy the vessel. These campaigns were well supported by the public, particularly in Northern Ireland, (and by this website owner here in North Carolina) but were unable to raise sufficient funds to meet Nomadic's reserve price.
The campaigns however gained political and governmental support, and on 26 January 2006, the Northern Ireland government Department for Social Development bought the vessel at auction for €250,001, the reserve price being €250,000. ($264,488 USD)
SS Nomadic left Le Havre to return to Belfast in July 2006, and arrived close to where she was built, on July 18, 2006. The vessel was welcomed back by the Department for Social Development Minister, David Hanson MP and the Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Belfast, Ruth Patterson and a number of well wishers. Nomadic arrived "piggy backed" on a marine transportation barge, which had been contracted by the department.