As we know, RMS Titanic
was on her ill-fated maiden voyage a century ago this week. Less well-known: the tender ship to Titanic
and her sister Olympic
was the SS Nomadic
. The ship was built on Slipway No. 1 of Harland and Wolff Shipyards
alongside the liners (Olympic and Titanic were built on slipways 2 and 3
, respectively). The massive liners -- each nearly nine hundred feet long and measuring some 45,000 tons -- were too large to dock at Cherbourg, so Nomadic
was used to ferry mail, passengers and cargo aboard at Cherbourg, the liners' last port of call before crossing the Atlantic.
She saw service in both world wars, as a troop carrier in WWI
and again as a troop transport, minelayer and coastal patrol vessel in WWII. After the second war, she returned to service as a tender for Queen Mary
and Queen Elizabeth
Decommissioned in 1968, Nomadic
was converted into a floating restaurant
in Paris. When the business failed around the turn of the century, her superstructure was torn down so she could be towed out to Le Havre. After her owner's death in 2005, she seemed destined for the scrapyard until a group of maritime history enthusiasts began raising funds to buy and restore her. The Northern Ireland government's Department for Social Development purchased the ship and brought her home to Belfast on a barge for restoration
at Harland and Wolff, a company
now mostly devoted to offshore renewable energy.
And thus it is that century after Titanic
and for almost certainly the last time ever, a White Star vessel
is at the Harland and Wolff shipyards
The restorations were not completed in time
for the Titanic
centennial, but later this year Nomadic
, which has been called "the most significant bit of Titanic
heritage not at the bottom of the sea," will be open for visitors.