News from 1891: Maiden Voyages of Nomadic I and Tauric

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Mark Baber

Staff member
On 5 May 1891, White Star's Nomadic I made her maiden arrival in New York. Compared to the express passenger liners, cattle carriers didn't receive a whole lot of attention. This article, though, appeared while Nomadic was en route to NYC from Liverpool. It's from The New-York Times, 28 April 1891.

A big new freight steamer of the White Star Line, the Nomadic, sailed from Liverpool April 25 and is expected to reach here May 5. A sister ship, the Tauric, is to sail for this port May 21.

These vessels are important additions to the fleet sailing to and from New-York. They are 460 feet long, 49 feet beam, and 35 feet depth. Their registered tonnage is 5,750 and they have capacity to carry 9.800 tons. The engines which turn their twin screws give them a speed of 13 1/2 to 14 knots an hour. Each steamer has a coal capacity of 700 tons.

The Nomadic and Tauric are built with special reference to carrying cattle, and elaborate arrangements for ventilation and convenience in caring for live freight, have been made. Each steamer can take on board 1,200 head of cattle, while there is space in the refrigerators for 2,400 quarters of dressed beef.


Inger Sheil

Ta for posting that, Mark. Several of the Titanic's officers served in the cattle carriers earlier in their career (Wilde and Lightoller in particular did quite a bit of time in them), but you're right about the difficulties in finding material relating to these ships. The Tauric was one of Wilde's earliest WSL ships.
I recently discovered that the Nomadic 1 was hired by the UK Government and made several journeys to South Africa during the Boer war.

I wonder why the Capt. & Senior Officers were not awarded the Transport medal - possibly because it was a cattle carrier.

Mark Baber

Staff member
24 October 1899: Under the name H.M. Transport No. 34, Nomadic I makes
the first of three Boer War trooping voyages, London-Cape Town.
(Sources: Anderson's White Star; Haws' Merchant Fleets.)

31 December 1899: Nomadic I, renamed HM Transport 34, makes the second
of three Boer War trooping voyages, London-Cape Town. (Source:
Anderson's White Star.)

2 June 1900: Nomadic I, temporarily known as HM Transport 34, makes the
third of her three Boer War trooping voyages, Southampton-Cape Town.
(Sources: Anderson's White Star; Haws' Merchant Fleets.)

I wonder why the Capt. & Senior Officers were not awarded the Transport medal
Do you know for a fact that they weren't, Ernie?​
Hello Mark

I'm pretty certain. I don't know the Officers or Master of the Nomadic - it's possible some of them might have obtained the medal if they also served in the three ships listed as eligible, the Majestic, Brittanic and Cymric.

I think the clue lies in the memorandum of the terms under which the medal was issued, an extract:- "It is His Majesty's intention that the Transport Medal shall be granted in future to the Officers of the Mercantile Marine serving on Troop Transports similarly chartered whenever a medal may have been granted to the Troops engaged but not otherwise"

I think the answer is the fact that Nomadic was a cattle carrier and not a Troop Transport. A bit tough on those that served on the ship.

In actual fact, despite his Majesty's intentions the Transport medal was only issue for the Boer War and the China War, about 1700 in total.

Mark Baber

Staff member
The Times, 20 April 1891

ATLANTIC CATTLE TRADE---At the invitation of Messrs. Ismay, Imrie, and
Co., a number of gentlemen interested in the conveyance of live cattle
by sea on Saturday inspected the new White Star cattle and cargo
steamship Nomadic, lying on the west side of the Alexandra Dock,
Liverpool, she being the first vessel of the line specially built to
meet the requirements of the Atlantic live cattle trade. The statistics
of the companies have shown that the losses of cattle through sea
carriage are trifling, especially in presence of the strictures which
have been passed on those engaged in the trade. The White Star steamers
Cufic and Runic have carried 20,876 head of cattle across the Atlantic,
and have lost less than two thirds of one per cent. Messrs. Ismay,
Imrie, and Co. have endeavoured to embrace all their experience of the
trade in their two new steamers, the Nomadic and Tauric, built by
Messrs. Harland and Wolff, of Belfast, and this circumstance lent
special interest to the inspection which took place on Saturday, when
gentlemen engaged in the business manifested their pleasure at the
apparent perfection achieved in the arrangements for the safe and proper
conveyance not only of ordinary cattle cargoes, but of the prize horses,
stallions, Shetland ponies, prize cattle, and sheep which are often
shipped from Great Britain to America, special provision being made on
board the Nomadic and Tauric for this latter trade. The new vessels are
460ft. in length, 42ft. in breadth, and 35ft. in depth, with a gross
register of 5,750 tons, and a dead weight capacity of 7,500 tons. They
are propelled by twin screws with manganese bronze blades, driven by
triple expansion engines of 600-horse power nominal. Each ship has
permanent fittings for the accommodation of 1,216 head of cattle, and in
the pens and alleyways ample space is allowed, while good ventilation is
insured through all the three decks in which cattle can be carried. The
hatchways are to be kept clean, and sick beasts can be promptly removed
there for effective treatment. On each cattle deck there will be a
convenient and plentiful supply of fresh water. Besides the
accommodation for live cattle, each ship is fitted with chambers for
carrying 2,387 quarters of beef. There is also cargo space besides
comfortable quarters for the cattle men.

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