The White Star Line vessel S.S NOMADIC is best remembered as the Cherbourg-based tender that took passengers out to the ill-fated R.M.S. TITANIC. However, after being requisitioned by the French government, NOMADIC was converted to a minesweeper in 1917 and operated out of Saint-Nazaire from June that year until May 1919.
Launched in April 1911, in early June that year NOMADIC took up her duty as a tender for the large White Star Liners too large to enter Cherbourg harbour. Requisitioned by the French government, NOMADIC was taken to Saint-Nazaire and converted to a minesweeper, armed with a 90mm and the famous French ‘75’ gun. From June 1917 until December 1917, she was commanded by Lieutenant Henri du Reau de la Gaignonniere and later by Captain Levillain. On 15th May 1919 she left Saint-Nazaire for Brest, where she resumed her former role as a tender, this time ferrying US troops out to the U.S.S. LEVIATHAN (the former VATLAND). NOMADIC was de-requisitioned on 2nd June 1919.
Where is she now?
NOMADIC returned from France to Belfast in 2006 and now restored to her pre-First World War appearance, she is a major visitor attraction in the city’s Titanic Quarter.
Special thanks to Philippe Delaunoy, NOMADIC historian
Service Historique de la defense, Ref SSY367 Auxiliary minesweeper, NOMADIC logs (24/08/1917-26/04/1919) -- in French
Marc Elder (ill Rene Pinard) ‘A bord des chalutiers dragueurs de mines’, Paris Devambez, 1919, 54p (notice BnF no FRBNF416740691). This includes a set of 20 drawings by René Pinard; five of them were made on board NOMADIC.
Plans of NOMADIC’s conversion into a minesweeper are held by the Service Historique de la Defense (SHD) in Cherbourg.