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15 Things You Didn’t Know About SS Nomadic!


On this day, 26th January, 2006, SS Nomadic was purchased by the Department of Social Development to return home to Belfast! To celebrate the anniversary we've put together 15 things you didn't know about SS Nomadic!


1.  Nothing sits straight on board Nomadic!

Every panel, door, unit etc. sits at an angle to accommodate the curve of the ship.

2. Nomadic was the first tender to have electric lighting..

When the ship returned to Belfast in 2006, 25 of the original light fittings were still fully intact.

3. First Class Floor..

Nomadic’s first-class floor pattern is the same as one that was used for the first-class dining saloon on board RMS Titanic.

4. She can make a tight turn!

Nomadic’s rudder was adapted/extended once she arrived in Cherbourg to improve her movement for turning.

5. Nomadic’s Near Miss..

Nomadic was involved in an accident in Cherbourg in the 1920’s – she only survived by closing her watertight doors and compartments!

6. Nomadic served in both WW1 and WW2..

The tender was used as a minesweeper and troop carrier in both wars. Even though her recommended capacity was 1,000, she carried 2,000 troops on each journey out to the Freighters which were waiting off shore. At the end of WW1, Nomadic transported 17,000 French women, who married American Servicemen, to American ships.

7. She had a sister ship - SS Traffic..

Nomadic’s sister ship, SS Traffic was captured by the Germans in WW2 during Operation Ariel. Although there are a number of theories what happened, the most common is that they scuttled her, recycling her parts for weapons and ammunitions. It is believed that if you visit the port of Cherbourg today, you can see the tip of SS Traffic’s funnel in low tide!

8. Also known as… Ingenieur Minard!

Nomadic was sold to the Cherbourg Towage and Salvage Company in 1934. The company decided to rename Nomadic ‘Ingenier Minard’ after the engineer who deepened Cherbourg Harbour – a little bit ironic as the deepening the harbour meant there was no need for tenders anymore!

9. Nomadic’s last tender..

Her very last journey as a tender was in 1968 out to the Queen Elizabeth – at the ripe age of 57 years old! During her time as tender she had several famous passengers on board including Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Marie Currie.

10. Sitting on the Seine..

In 1968, when her engines were removed, Nomadic’s engineering deck was filled with concrete to help redistribute the weight throughout the ship so she sat balanced in the water. It also allowed the owner at the time, Roland Spinnewyn, to fill her with 800 gallons of water so she sat low enough in the water to get her under the bridges of the river Seine in Paris.

11. Porthole Pinching..

Most porthole coverings were stolen from the ship when she sat abandoned in Paris and Le Harve during the early 2000’s. There is only one original porthole left in the entire ship. While not original, during her restoration all the other portholes were made by same company that made them in 1911.

12. Full Steam Ahead!

SS Nomadic only ever had her original steam engines. Throughout her entire career they were never converted to modern engines.

13. The Last White Star Lifeboat..

Nomadic’s lifeboat number 2, is the last lifeboat in the world belonging to the White Star Line. This is currently with the Nomadic Preservation Society.

14. Nomadic’s Return to H&W..

During the ship’s restoration, Harland and Wolff rebuilt the outer decks to the 1911 specification. Therefore, SS Nomadic is the last ship that Harland and Wolff have worked on to this date.

15. Authentic Mari-time History..

The clock above the bar on board SS Nomadic is believed the original from 1911! It was stolen from the ship when she was abandoned in Paris. During the restoration, the team found the clock listed for sale on eBay.  The clock is wound up every morning and still tells the correct time over 104 years later!

 Why not explore more of the SS Nomadic story for yourself? Book your tickets now!