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The White Star Line Passenger Tender, Nomadic

The only existing White Star Line Vessel

White Star Line Nomadic 1911- Present

Built for the White Star Line in 1911 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast. Nomadic was a passenger tender designed to ferry passengers from the dock to their ship in harbors that were too shallow to accommodate large vessels.  Nomadic was built as a replacement for the aging passenger tender Gallic. She looked very much like her sister Traffic, also a tender. Nomadic carried passengers from the docks at Cherbourg, France to Titanic in 1912 when she made her final port of call.



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.




. After the war, Nomadic (Ingenieur Minard) resumed tender duty with the Queen Mary being the last vessel she served in 1968. 


The Nomadic under construction at Harland and Wolff Shipbuilders, Belfast 1911

She was then sold to a private buyer who renamed Nomadic again and she opened as a restaurant on 1977 on the River Seine in France. The restaurant eventually went out of business, and she just sat for nearly 30 years empty.

Things looked bleak for Nomadic as the owner was looking at having her scrapped. In 2006, she was rescued and saved when purchased by the Department for Social Development in Belfast, Ireland.







"The Nomadic has come Home" (95 years later)

(Below) Nomadic in Belfast July 2006

(Above) Images Copyright: David Scott Beddard - Nomadic in Belfast 2006.

Nomadic was privately owned at one time and used as a restaurant in France

(Below) Images Copyright: Julian Hill -  Nomadic in France 1999


August 2009, Nomadic was moved to Hamilton Graving Dock, on Queen's Road, Belfast. This dry dock, itself a piece of maritime heritage, was partly refurbished in a joint partnership between the Belfast Harbor Commission and Titanic Quarter Ltd. The dock is believed to be where Nomadic was originally fitted out and has now been leased as a permanent location for Nomadic.

By late 2009 the NCS had sufficient funding to begin major conservation and restoration works. In February 2010, major works commenced with external blasting and priming of the steel hull, preventing further deterioration of the steelwork.

In February 2011, Harland and Wolff were appointed by the NCS to undertake steelwork restoration and repair, rekindling a 100-year link with the ship's original builders. The value of the contract was $3 million (2£ million) and included re-creation of the missing bridge and flying bridge decks, hull repairs and painting of the vessel in her original White Star Line livery. These works were completed in February 2012.

The final phase of restoration work included conservation and restoration of the luxurious interior, featuring plaster paneling and ornate joinery. Original SS Nomadic timber paneling was purchased from a French museum by the Nomadic Preservation Society, using funds raised during the Save Nomadic appeal. The paneling has since been donated to the NCS for sympathetic restoration and reinstatement back on board the vessel. This phase of works also includes restoration works to the historic Hamilton Graving Dock and pump house, converting the dock area and ship into a tourist attraction.


Restoration Complete

                            The 106 year old Nomadic shown completely restored and painted back to her original White Star Line colors is currently open for tour to the public


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