04 March 2006

The SS Nomadic is homeward bound

Belfast Telegraph

By Linda McKee
04 March 2006

SS Nomadic is expected to return to the city where she was built by late spring.

Campaigners who fought successfully to save the former Titanic tender from the scrapyard say the Government has estimated she will return to Belfast by then.

Department of Social Development (DSD) officials recently travelled to Le Havre in northern France to inspect the historic vessel, which was bought at auction last month for the knock-down price of 250,000 euro.

DSD has now invited tenders from companies interested in the task of transporting the former Titanic ferry back to the city where she was built. Members of the Save Nomadic campaign advised the Government that Nomadic will probably have to be carried rather than towed back to Belfast.

David Scott Beddard explained: "We think that because of the bulkheads that have been removed, she will have to be piggybacked at least as far as Belfast Lough."

A DSD spokesman said: "It is likely that the transport will be by a barge and tenders have been invited. Once these have been evaluated, a decision will be made on the timing of the return voyage."

DSD has now employed Mr and Mrs Cojibus, Nomadic's caretakers, to continue looking after her at her mooring in Le Havre docks.

The department has also bought the pumping system which was used by the caretakers to keep the vessel free of rain water.

The Save Nomadic campaign has now raised £57,000 in contributions and pledges from members of the public.

It is in the process of setting up the Nomadic Preservation Trust which will raise money for renovating the vessel that once carried first-class passengers as they boarded the doomed Titanic on her maiden voyage from Cherbourg. Anyone who pledged more than £50 will become a member of the trust, while those who donated more than £250 will become automatic lifelong members.

The Save Nomadic campaign has commissioned world-renowned maritime artist Simon Fisher to create three new paintings of Nomadic. One shows her serving Titanic's sister ship Olympic and a second depicts her heading out to carry 'Molly' Brown, Benjamin Guggenheim, Sir Cosmo & Lady Duff-Gordon and other first and second class passengers to Titanic on the evening of April 10, 1912. A third, yet to be painted, will show Nomadic being fitted out in the Hamilton Dock shortly after her launch in 1911. All three will be displayed on board Nomadic and prints hand-signed by the artist will be available.

Meanwhile, model maker Robin Burrows is on 'stand-by' to start work on a 10ft model of Nomadic, which will become the central focus of the ship-board Titanic exhibition.

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