SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Star Line ship, sits in the dry dock facing the Titanic Belfast building. The entry ticket to the Titanic exhibition allowed us to visit the vessel, so we went to have a look.
The small ship was a tender that used to ferry first and second class passengers out to the White Star liners at Cherbourg, where the port was not deep enough to take the big ships. A smaller companion vessel, SS Traffic, used to ferry the third class passengers, after all we couldn’t have the great unwashed coming into close proximity to their betters! Both the NOmadic and Traffic transported passengers to the Titanic when it arrived at Cherbourg from Southampton at the beginning of its fateful voyage.
There are scale models of both vessels in the main saloon on the Nomadic.
Visitors can wander around the ship to see the passenger lounges, crew’s quarters and the working areas.
There were separate lounges for the first and second class passengers where they could relax during the short journey out to their liner.
Like in the main Titanic Experience exhibition, the latest technology was being used, including video projections of the captain and this barman.
My favourite parts were the crew quarters and working areas
It was interesting to see the riveted hull up close
And up on deck we could get close to the funnel
and pretend we were steering the vessel out at sea!
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 and for ferrying American troops. After the war she returned to her role as a tender. The Second World War she was requisitioned again and on 18 June 1940 took part in the evacuation of Cherbourg. After the fall of France she was taken over by by the Royal Navy and based in Portsmouth harbour, and operated as a troop ship, coastal patrol vessel and minelayer for the remainder of the war.
After the war she returned to tender duties and was retired in 1968 and then spent a number of years moored on the Seine in Paris being used as a restaurant and nightclub. In 2006, faced with being scrapped, the Northern Ireland government Department for Social Development bought the vessel at auction. She was returned to Belfast and restored her to her original 1911 condition.