A century on, she is home again.
April 11, 2012 3:22 PM   Subscribe

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.
posted by ricochet biscuit (23 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Beautifully written post.
posted by krilli at 3:32 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

That picture of Titanic and Olympic together in their slipways is all kinds of awesome. Great post!
posted by Thorzdad at 4:27 PM on April 11, 2012

The atlanticliners link "troop carrier in WW1" requests a password.
posted by wilful at 4:38 PM on April 11, 2012

Everyone always forgets the Brittanic. *sigh*
posted by pjern at 4:56 PM on April 11, 2012

I didn't forget Brittanic , just didn't see a way to bring it into the post. If Brittanic and Nomadic ever came in sight of each other, it would be news to me.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:04 PM on April 11, 2012

Wasn't Queenstown/Cobh in County Cork the last port of call rather than Cherbourg?
posted by Azara at 5:07 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the post. It looks like we have missed the chance to step aboard the 12 night Titanic Memorial Cruise on the the Balmoral however. A little more information on the trip.

As an alternative we could just listen to the music which was played aboard the ship - even as it sunk: 1, 2, 3
posted by rongorongo at 5:13 PM on April 11, 2012

Related: I've got a page up (on my site) of songs about the Titanic.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:21 PM on April 11, 2012

Everyone always forgets the Brittanic. *sigh*
posted by pjern

Not Violet Jessop:

Violet Constance Jessop (October 2, 1887 – May 5, 1971) was an ocean liner stewardess and nurse who achieved fame by surviving the disastrous sinkings of sister ships RMS Titanic and HMHS Britannic in 1912 and 1916 respectively. In addition, she had been on board Titanic and Britannic′s other sister ship, RMS Olympic, when it collided with the protected cruiser HMS Hawke in 1911.
posted by 445supermag at 7:02 PM on April 11, 2012

posted by Damienmce at 8:43 PM on April 11, 2012

Am I the only person getting asked for a password for the troop carrier in WWI link?
posted by pompomtom at 10:16 PM on April 11, 2012

no. That was me too.
posted by wilful at 10:34 PM on April 11, 2012

Yay! I'm not special!
posted by pompomtom at 10:50 PM on April 11, 2012

As Asara said, the last stop for Titanic was Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland. She was too big to dock there either, but I can't recall how they ferried people back and forth.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 11:49 PM on April 11, 2012

April 11, 1912 (Thursday) 11:30am: Titanic arrives in Queenstown, Ireland
a. Docks not large enough, Titanic had to drop anchor 2 miles (3km) offshore
b. 2 tenders (America and Ireland) carried new passengers, luggage, mail, reporters, and immigration officers out to the Titanic

posted by dhartung at 1:36 AM on April 12, 2012

As we know

Some do, some don't.
posted by scalefree at 3:34 AM on April 12, 2012

First I've heard of it
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 4:08 AM on April 12, 2012

Yes, Cobh was the final port of call: mea culpa. My days of being a Titanic enthusiast are twenty years gone and that had slipped my mind. You know, I looked for a link to a map for the phrase "crossing the Atlantic" and it seemed that every combination of 'Olympic Titanic route map' came up dry? I cannot believe that on the gazillions of Titanic sites out there that no one has ever put a map online, but there ya go. That being said, I am sure someone else will find one in the next seventeen minutes.

And it is strange that the password-protected link comes up: I found the picture during my search for a photo and my laptop running Firefox goes straight to the photo (although my iPhone running Safari gets a password screen). Hunh.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:36 AM on April 12, 2012

Some do, some don't.

I guess some people must get genuinely bothered at the lazy comedian's go-to line: "Spoiler: the ship sinks."

That being said, when I was a devoted reader of all things Titanic many years ago, I once visited the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic during a trip to Halifax. The McKay-Bennett, which retrieved the bodies after the sinking, used Halifax as a base, and consequently the museum there had a superb Titanic exhibit. One of the artifacts on display was what was then the largest piece of Titanic on display anywhere (it may still be, or something that people have since looted from the wreck may now trump it): a square of wood panelling maybe four feet on a side, from some lounge or other.

James Cameron went to a lot of trouble to get the art direction right in his movie, and I noticed when I saw the flick years later that the chunk of wood on which Rose ends the movie is a reproduction of that piece of wreckage. I wonder how many visitors to the museum who might have watched the movie a dozen times as sentimental teens have since looked up at that piece of the wreck and murmured, "Oh my god, there it is..."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:38 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lovely post.

My grandpa was an engineer and helped refit on of Titanic's sister ships for combat use. I'll have to ask him which one it was.
posted by fireflies at 9:19 AM on April 12, 2012

The last stop being Cobh/Queenstown stuck in my head because Father Browne, the photographer who took so many pictures on the maiden voyage, only sailed from Southampton to Queenstown.
posted by Azara at 10:28 AM on April 12, 2012

ricochet biscuit:

Here's a map I turned up on Google. http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/Titanic-Route-Map-A1514
posted by Zot at 1:18 PM on April 12, 2012

There was more than one ship known as Britannic under the White Star Line. While the HMHS Britannic is the one that sank, 2-year-old Eleanor Roosevelt was on the SS Britannic when it collided with the SS Celtic, another White Star Line ship, in thick fog. While there were no deaths on the Celtic, six steerage passengers were immediately killed on the Britannic, and another six were missing, having been washed overboard.

Other White Star Line ships that faced disaster include:

The aforementioned HMHS Britannic.

The RMS Celtic, not the one that collided with the Britannic above. In 1917, Celtic struck a mine off the Isle of Man. Seventeen people on board were killed, but the Celtic survived. In March 1918, U-Boat UB-77 torpedoed Celtic in the Irish Sea. Six people on board were killed, but again Celtic remained afloat, eventually the damaged vessel was towed to Liverpool and repaired again. Early on 10 December 1928 Celtic became stranded on the Cow and Calf rocks, adjacent to Roches Point as she approached Cobh with more than 200 passengers aboard. The passengers were saved, but this time the ship could not be moved or salvaged, and was abandoned to the insurance company who declared the ship to be a total loss.

The SS Teutonic, which in October, 1918, narrowly avoided the same fate as the Titanic when, at 172 miles east of Belle Isle off the Newfoundland coast, it ran so close to an iceberg that it avoided collision only by reversing its engines and putting the helm hard aport. According to the October 29, 1918 issue of the Chicago Tribune, "the liner passed within twenty feet of the iceberg. The fog was so thick that even at that small distance the berg could scarcely be distinguished. It was so close that there was danger that the propeller of the ship would strike it as the vessel went around. The passengers were not aware of their peril until it had been averted.

The RMS Majestic, which burned out at her moorings after being repurposed as a cadet training ship and renamed the HMS Caledonia.

The RMS Oceanic, which veered dangerously off course and collided with the Shaalds of Foula reef and wrecked.

The RMS Georgic, which was bombed in World War II. A bomb hit the stern of the ship, causing a fire which exploded some ammunition the ship was carrying. The holes were temporarily plugged and the ship was sent back to Belfast for complete refurbishment, and she continued her service for 13 more years.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:22 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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