Published: 15th September 2023

The return of the last Nomadic lifeboat

One of SS Nomadic’s original lifeboats is being reunited with the ship following the donation of the lifeboat to the Maritime Belfast Trust from the Nomadic Preservation Society.

Kerrie Sweeney, CEO of Maritime Belfast Trust, the charity that preserves and promotes Belfast’s rich maritime heritage commented: “We are delighted that the Nomadic Preservation Society have donated the last SS Nomadic lifeboat, which has joined our collection of heritage artefacts. During this year’s Maritime Festival, we were able to display the lifeboat so that thousands of people could see its traditional construction, and learn about the restoration process. We are now looking at a plan for a permanent display of the lifeboat, and look forward to the public being able to see it reunited with the SS Nomadic. We will also explore temporary display opportunities in the meantime.”

David Young, Chairman of the Nomadic Preservation Society said that they have been the proud owners of the only remaining White Star Lifeboat in the world.  “The time has come to donate Lifeboat No 2 into the safe hands of the Maritime Belfast Trust. The only request being that she continues to be looked after with the love and care, that we the Nomadic Preservation have given her over the years. Please display her with pride, and we hope that the people of Belfast, the Island of Ireland and the World get as much pleasure from her as we have had.”

The donation was marked by a small event on board the SS Nomadic with current and former members of the Nomadic Preservation Society, staff and board members of the Maritime Belfast Trust, project supporters, and staff from Titanic Belfast Limited. The event concluded with an official signing of the donation agreement. A string quartet from City of Belfast Youth Orchestra provided the entertainment.

Key Facts about Lifeboat No 2

SS Nomadic had two lifeboats, built by Harland & Wolff in 1910 and designed by Roderick Chisholm, the shipyard’s chief draughtsman.

  • The lifeboats were a traditional-clinker build, planks overlapping and secured by copper rivets, and built to a cutter plan similar in style to the two cutter lifeboats on RMS Titanic, but slightly smaller at 20ft in length
  • The lifeboats were on board Nomadic during her years as a tender ship, as well as a troop ship and minesweeper during the world wars
  • In the 1970s, Nomadic was turned into a floating restaurant in Paris, and the two lifeboats were detached from the ship
  • The lifeboats were acquired by a French maritime museum, but their condition deteriorated and No1 lifeboat was unfortunately destroyed
  • In 2006 Lifeboat No 2 was saved by the Nomadic Preservation Society
  • The Lifeboat has had extensive conservation and repair work carried out, including a new keel, and the replacement of missing timbers and marker plates and plaques.