The SS Nomadic was a tender ship to RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic. She is the last surviving White Star Line ship in the world, and is docked in Belfast. She is open to the public as part of the Titanic Belfast Visitor Attraction.
SS Nomadic was one of two tenders, the other being the SS Traffic, built specifically to serve the needs of White Star's new Olympic-Class Liners, Olympic and Titanic, at Cherbourg, France. Because the harbour at Cherbourg was not deep enough for the huge new White Star ships, passengers had to be ferried out to the boats in tenders. In keeping with the luxury of the Olympic Class, Nomadic and her sister had interiors outfitted with some of the same luxurious fittings as the larger liners.
Nomadic had four working decks, one funnel, one mast, and twin screws. She was built in 1911 by Harland and Wolff, at Yard No. 422. She was designed by Thomas Andrews. Her launch date was 25 April, 1911.
On 29 May, 1911, Nomadic accompanied Olympic out of Belfast during her sea trials. Following the launch of Titanic on 31 May, Nomadic and Traffic went directly to Cherbourg, while Olympic went on to Liverpool.
Nomadic served as a tender, bringing passengers and mail to Titanic and Olympic.
As she was built specifically to serve at Cherbourg, she and Traffic were registered under the French flag, and managed by A. Laniece, later by George A. Laniece.
On 13 November, 1911, Nomadic's bow was damaged when she collided with the American Line ship, Philadelphia.
On 10 April, 1912, at 6:35pm, Nomadic carried passengers and mail out to Titanic. Benjamin Guggenheim, Molly Brown, and Dorothy Gibson were among the passengers who boarded Titanic via Nomadic in Cherbourg. All together, 274 passengers were ferried out to the new liner: 142 First class, 30 Second class, and 102 Third class.
In World War One, Nomadic was requisitioned by the French government for service at Brest. She served as a minesweeper and a troop carrier.
In 1931, she once again damaged her bow in a collision, this time with Atlantic Transport liner Minnewaska.
In 1934, after a merger with Cunard, Nomadic was sold to the Societie Cherbougeoise de Remorquage et Sauvetage. At this time, she was renamed Ingenieur Minard.
In 1940, she escaped Cherbourg at the time of German occupation of France. She spent World War Two serving in the same capacity she had in World War One. In 1945, following the war, she was returned to French owners and re-entered the commercial service. Because the port of Cherbourg had been damaged in the war, large ocean liners could not dock there. Due to this, Nomadic was able to serve as a tender for liners such as Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. She retired from these duties on 4 November 1968.
In 1970, Nomadic was the last vessel of the White Star fleet. She was sold to Somairee for demolition, but
escaped being destroyed. She spent many years as a floating restaurant, anchored in the River Seine at Paris.
Finally, in 2003, her superstructure was removed to enable her to pass under the bridges of the River Seine, and her hull was pushed by a tug to a boat yard at Le Havre. On 12 July 2006, Nomadic left Le Havre bound for Belfast, following her purchase at auction by the Northern Ireland Government Department for Social Development for €250,001. She arrived in Belfast on 18 July, 2006.
The Northern Ireland Department for Social Development set up a voluntary charitable trust, called the Nomadic Charitable Trust (or NCT) on December 2006. The NCT took ownership of the vessel and was overseeing her conservation and restoration. Their aim was stated as being "To restore the SS Nomadic and to make her accessible to the public, to ensure she can play a key role in the ongoing celebration of Titanic, ensure a lasting legacy to celebrate our maritime and industrial heritage and as a catalyst for tourism, social and economic development".
In April of 2015, the NCT transferred Nomadic's ownership to the Titanic Foundation. Restoration complete, it is now run by Titanic Belfast Nomadic Limited and is part of the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction.
- All of the panels, doors, units, etc sit at an angle to accommodate the curve of the ship's hull.
- SS Nomadic was the first tender to have electric lighting.
- The pattern of Nomadic's first class floor is the same as the pattern of the flooring for the First Class Dining Saloon on board Titanic.
- Lifeboat No. 2 of the Nomadic is the last White Star lifeboat in the world. It is currently with the Nomadic Preservation Society.
- During Nomadic's restoration, Harland and Wolff rebuilt her decks according to their 1911 specifications, meaning that she was the last ship built by the shipbuilders to this date.