index sitemap advanced
site search by freefind




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 Wikipedia Article

Nomadic arrived in Cherbourg on 3 June 1911 to begin her tendering duties for the White Star Line. On 10 April 1912 she transported 274 passengers to RMS Titanic for the doomed liner's maiden voyage, including Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife, Lucy (Lady Duff-Gordon), Denver millionaire Margaret Brown and industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim.

During World War I and until 1919, 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.

During World War II, Nomadic again saw service; on 18 June 1940 she took part in the evacuation of Cherbourg. She was subsequently requisitioned by the Royal Navy and based in Portsmouth harbor, she operated as a troop ship, coastal patrol vessel and 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 was saved from scrap and again 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 on 4 November 1968.

Nomadic lay idle for five years but was subsequently bought by a private individual, Yvon Vincent, saving her from scrap once again. She was extensively converted into a floating restaurant and function vessel, and in October 1974 was relocated to the Seine in Paris. By 1999, the business was in financial difficulties and Nomadic was seized by the Paris harbor authorities in 2002. The authorities removed some of Nomadic's superstructure in order to tow her below the Seine's bridges. On 1 April 2003 she was towed out of Paris to Le Havre.

Following Vincent’s death in March 2005, the authorities sought to dispose of the vessel and attempted to find a buyer for Nomadic, if no buyer was found, she risked being sold for scrap value. 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, 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).

SS Nomadic left Le Havre to return to Belfast on 12 July 2006, and arrived close to where she was built, on 18 July 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.

Complete story follows below.





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

(Below) Nomadic in Belfast July 2006

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



The SS Nomadic, now owned by the Department for Social Development returned to Belfast, the port of her birth, in July 2006.  

Social Development Minister David Hanson MP said: “It is my great pleasure to confirm that the Nomadic will be back in Belfast in July.  Following competitive tender my Department has contracted Anchor Marine and Hammer Marine Services to bring the Nomadic home to Belfast.  To ensure the safe return of the vessel, a submersible barge will be used which presents the least risk to successfully transporting the 95-year old vessel”.  

The Minister said that he would be announcing a final arrival date shortly.  He also announced that DSD has been taking forward the setting up of a charitable trust to coordinate the fundraising and oversee the restoration of the Nomadic.

“DSD will formally invite Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Belfast Industrial Heritage Society and the Titanic Society to nominate their trustees. These groups have expressed keen interest in the Nomadic and played a leading role in the campaign for the vessel to be purchased by Government and restored as a symbol of Northern Ireland’s maritime heritage and association with the Titanic story.

 “Belfast City Council has pledged £100,000 for the restoration fund, Belfast Harbour Commissioners have agreed to provide a free berth for the vessel and Belfast Industrial Heritage Society has been active in fundraising. I am grateful to them for their assistance and co-operation.

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

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

Beginning Restoration

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 works includes 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 104 year old Nomadic shown completely restored and painted back to her original White Star Line colors is currently open for tour to the public



Return to Home