Nomadic & Traffic
Some of the busiest vessels
in a shipping company’s fleet were not always the largest or the most famous
ones. An important part of the business were the tender ships – the small
ships that were used for carrying mail and passengers to the great liners
in such ports where docking was impossible due to the liners’ immense size.
the White Star Line put the Olympic into service on June 14th
1911, they took a giant leap forward. This new vessel – and her two future
sisters – would make the company one of the foremost operating on the North
Atlantic. However, putting such new and modern ships into service meant
that some of the line’s older vessels seemed even more outdated.
is the story of the White Star tender Nomadic and her work mate
Traffic, which were specially constructed to serve the Olympic-class
ships. As fate would have it, the Nomadic was to be the longest
surviving vessel of the great White Star fleet.
was absolutely the case with the line’s tender ship operating in the French
port at Cherbourg – the Gallic. She had entered company service
in 1907, but had been constructed already in 1894. She was an old paddle
ship at 461 tons, and such an old-fashioned tender was not suited to serve
the brand new Olympic-class liners.
the summer of 1910, plans were made for two new tenders. They would be
similar in design, but not actual sisters. On December 22nd
1910, the two tender’s keels were laid on slip no. 1. As the two mammoths
Olympic and Titanic were taking shape
side by side in the yards of
Harland & Wolff, the Nomadic and Traffic were rapidly
built in the vicinity.
|The Nomadic with the
Olympic visible in the background.
after they had first been conceived, the two vessels were ready for launch.
On April 25th 1911, the Nomadic took to the water. The
Traffic followed two days later, on the 27th. A little
less than a months later, on May 16th, the Nomadic went
through her sea trials. Accordingly, the Traffic went through hers
two days later. On May 27th, the two tenders were handed over
to White Star, just in time to attend the Olympic’s sea trials the
sea trials were perfectly satisfactory, and when completed the new giant
headed for Southampton. Her two tenders accompanied her. However, while
the Olympic remained in Southampton for provisioning for her forthcoming
maiden voyage, Nomadic and Traffic proceeded to Cherbourg
where they would be stationed. Here they were registered in the name of
the White Star Line’s local agent – George Lanièce. The Nomadic
was the largest of the pair, at 1,273 tons, and would be used for carrying
first class passenger to the company’s liners. The smaller Traffic
of 675 tons was used for mail and passengers travelling in second and third
of transferring mail and passengers had been carefully gone through before
the new tenders entered service. Yet on their first day of work, when the
Olympic called at Cherbourg on her maiden voyage, things did not
work out as planned. The White Star Line’s chairman and managing director,
Joseph Bruce Ismay, who otherwise enjoyed the new flagship’s premiere voyage,
was annoyed that the transfer had not run smoothly. However, when the procedure
had been carefully reviewed, things would become much better.
Nomadic did not escape her share of bad luck. On November 13th
1911, she was involved in a minor collision with the American Line's Philadelphia,
which she was serving at the moment. The Nomadic’s bow was slightly
months later, the Nomadic and Traffic made their only acquaintance
with the Titanic on April 12th, 1912. As fate would have
it, Titanic would never visit the port of Cherbourg again.
later, the First World War erupted. This war was to have an enormous impact
on the shipping lines of the world, and the Nomadic and Traffic
were both selected to serve as naval tenders at Brest. They were used for
this purpose throughout the conflict, and did not see much action. After
the Armistice, they were returned to the White Star Line for continued
commercial service in the port of Cherbourg.
|The Nomadic and
Traffic moored alongside eachother in Cherbourg.
tenders remained in company service until the White Star Line was sold
by IMM in 1927. The new owner of the company, Lord Kylsant, sold them to
the French Compagnie Cherbourgeoise de Transbordement. However, they would
remain at Cherbourg and operate with White Star ships.
and Traffic would remain under Transbordement ownership until 1934.
During these years, the Traffic was the most unfortunate one. On June 5th
1929, she was involved in a minor collision with the Homeric. The
Traffic’s rails and plates on the starboard side were damaged, and required
repairs. Six months later, she again was damaged when she went alongside
the Minnewaska in rough weather. The Minnewaska seemed to
be somewhat of a nemesis for the Traffic and Nomadic, as
she also collided with the Nomadic on November 29th,
the White Star Line merged with the Cunard due to the hard economic times,
and thereby created the new Cunard-White Star Line. The Nomadic
and Traffic were considered surplus in the new company, and was
sold to the Sociéte Cherbourgeoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage.
The Nomadic was now renamed Ingenieur Minard and the Traffic
became the Ingenieur Riebell. Their old buff-coloured funnels were
repainted black with a red band. They continued their service as tenders
but were occasionally used for towing and salvage duty.
the 1930s came to and end, the world was facing another world
war. When France fell in 1940, it meant that the two former White Star
tenders had to do something to avoid being captured by the German forces.
The Ingenieur Riebell, or former Traffic, was scuttled in
the port, but was salvaged by the Germans to serve them as an armed coastal
vessel. It was in this guise that she met her fate on January
17th 1941, when she was torpedoed by the British.
Minard, or Nomadic, had managed to escape across the English
Channel when France fell in 1940. She joined the British Navy and spent
the duration of the war performing war duties along the south coast of
|The Nomadic at
her present location, on the river Seine in Paris.
the Allied forces managed to defeat Adolf Hitler’s Germany, and peace was
achieved in 1945. The Ingenieur Minard was now returned to the port
of Cherbourg to continue her regular job as a tender. She remained there
for almost 23 years, serving such great ships as the two Queens.
this prosperous post-war era came to an end by the end of the 1960s.
Air travel was now taking over the transatlantic trade, and Cunard withdrew
the Queen Mary in 1967 and the Queen Elizabeth in 1968.
year the former Nomadic’s owner decided to sell the now ageing tender
for demolition. She was sold for this purpose to the company of Somairec
at Le Havre. It seemed as if the old tender would now meet her end.
the now 57 year-old little ship was saved when she was sold for use as
a floating restaurant. She was given back her old name Nomadic and
placed on the river Seine in Paris, close to the Eiffel Tower.
she remains to this day. Moored in the river Seine, she is a lone monument
over the once so grand and proud White Star fleet.