Nomadic, Titanic & other historic vessels

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Roo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Roo » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:04 pm

Thanks for your words Mike, they are most appreciated (nice picture by the way!).

I would also like to ask anyone in 'officialdom' whether you would allow us to add your website logo (or similar) to our site? We are doing a hefty upgrade and we wish to put a list of important supporters etc on our homepage. This would also assist you as it will direct those visitors to our site to yours too. Bluebird is famous too and many of our readers/visitors would love to find out what you are doing. Is this possible at all?

Do you recall that photograph of the Mauretania with the Turbinia right at her bow? Well, wouldn't you love to see Bluebird sitting at Nomadic's bow too one day!

Roo.

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Mike Bull
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Mike Bull » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:11 pm

Bill's the one you want re. using the logo/linking etc- I'm sure he'll be along later.
'I am not what is called a "civilized man", Professor. I have done with society for reasons that seem good to me.'

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Renegadenemo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Renegadenemo » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:02 am

I'm still scratching my head trying to work out who does what with the little ship. For my benefit and, I'm sure, that of a few others, can someone explain the politics of the Nomadic setup?
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

"As to reward, my profession is its own reward;" Sherlock Holmes.

I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who’s half a man,
Or the man who’s half a boy.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Roo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Roo » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:40 pm

My pleasure - but I warn you, it isn't pretty reading.

Nomadic had been languishing on the Seine opposite the Eiffel Tower for some time due to new policies regarding ships moored there and annual dry docking surveys. As a result, the ship lost its trading licence as she couldn't comply being trapped between 2 very low bridges and eventually the owner went bankrupt due to the unpaid debts and mooring fees still being charged. He decided the only real option was to sell the ship and so he put the feelers out. But he wanted too much and so she sat there, rapidly deteriorating until the Port Authorities in lieu of the unpaid fees seized the ship and sent her up to Le Havre for dry docking. But in order to do this, they acetylene torched the entire superstructure off to get her under the bridges. This was now about 2002.

Then ensued a series of auctions with the price getting lower and lower. It was then that David Scott Beddard and John White became involved after a call for help from a local Belfast group. This was now late 2005 and the next auction date was 26th Jan 2006. I became involved soon after and by then, a campaign website had been set up, with David and John going on the radio, on television and even going to the ship herself with a TV crew. Due to all the publicity, it seemed the Northern Ireland Government were showing interest - as the reserve price was 'only' €250,000 - and were watching our website. A few days before the auction, they contacted us simply advising that the ship would be bought by them. And it was, for €1 over the asking price

Our campaign group evolved into the Nomadic Preservation Society (NPS) and we carried on with the research and investigation etc. The ship is owned by the Department for Social Development (DSD) and their view was to set up a Charitable Trust to oversee the fundraising and restoration. But it was clear that they were on unexplored territory and just didn't have the first clue on how to even proceed. During this time, we advised the DSD and made our findings and research open to them. When the ship returned in July 2006, it was David and John who led the TV interviews - it was clear to all, the public associated the ship and its future with the Society, not the DSD - and the Nomadic Charitable Trust (NCT) had still not been set up 6 months after the ship was bought.

As the year dragged on, the ship lay locked up in bureaucracy and 'do not enter' signs at Harland and Wolff but the NPS continued to advise/liaise with the DSD. In October, the NCT was finally set up and comprised of politicians, civil servants, police chiefs, accountants, businessmen, marketing folk, a few history society people and a member of the World Ship Society. The idea was that the NCT should represent 'all shades of opinion'. At the 2nd meeting, David and I were asked to come along and give a presentation to the NCT on how we could take the project forward. As a result, the 2 of us were officially employed and along with one other, were responsible for everything, but reported to the NCT.

In January 2007 after the ship had been moved to a 'maintenance berth' just before the end of 2006, we finally got on board and prepared to get the ship open for Easter weekend. In 3 months, with the help of volunteers and community groups etc, the NPS got a derelict ship that hadn't received a paying visitor for nearly 10 years, open! During the subsequent 6 months, the ship received 18,000 visitors. During this time, David attended all NCT monthly meetings and spent the rest of the time, with the rest of us, planning Nomadic's future. It was at this time that events soured dramatically.

As the NCT got into its stride, it became abundantly clear that their vision for its future took a completely opposite view from that of practically everyone else. We envisaged that the ship would be returned to be completely restored (to operational condition) and marketed as Northern Ireland's greatest tourist attraction because of her direct link to Titanic. However, the political steamroller pushed aside all this and wanted nothing more than a quick fix project that allowed for conferencing, events, children's plays, local exhibitions and art galleries all dressed up in a rough replica of the ship as she was - in sections only, not in completeness! Relations between the 2 groups (NPS and NCT) rapidly declined as they viewed us as the obstacle in the way to their plans. When the ship closed in late 2007, the three of us were made redundant and officially asked to leave the project in early 2008 after which the ship was just locked up. I was re-employed through a subcontractor as the ship's caretaker/maintenance but was the only person on board.

As time went on, the NCT grew into the role and the entire project turned into a farce of such proportions that everybody previously involved (volunteers, community groups and organisations) all walked away. The political machine just ground the entire project to a halt with even the smallest request for things like batteries for the smoke detectors taking weeks/months to organise. In the end, many small items were bought by me just to keep things going! Tender processes for all jobs could take months just to get sent out and all the time, the ship just deteriorated now that the maintenance had been stopped other than the small bits I was 'allowed' to do. The ship all but came a ghost ship with any hope of a dignified future fading fast. During this time, the NCT continued to work on their plan of turning the ship into a giant community/arts centre despite publically stating that the ship will be 'fully restored'. Those in the know knew full well, this was not their plan in the slightest. The team brought in to do the Conservation Management Plan were so outraged at the way the entire project was being handled (along with Historic Ships Committee, HLF etc), that one of their senior consultants who wrote the first volume of the CMP actually resigned.

This all continued well into 2009 and eventually after the ship moved to her new home, a dry dock refurbished by the Harbour Commission, the NCT got the ship open for 2 weeks during the Tall Ships Festival. This festival was Belfast's largest ever event attracting 800,000 (essentially half the entire country) yet Nomadic only had a shade over 2,000 visitors. A few days later, the inevitable happened at our AGM where the NCT officially told the NPS that they wanted absolutely nothing to do with us anymore and that we were not wanted. This also came at a time when the Audit Office had published a scathing attack on the operation and management of the project which resulted in Stormont's Public Accounts Committee setting up a panel to investigate this further. It is now another very public failure and due to all the overwhelming negativity surrounding the project, there is simply no belief that the ship will look anything other than a slightly cleaned up version of what she looked like when she first returned in 2006.

This is the most basic of versions of the project to date. There are literally reams of other problems/battles/concerns that I could write of - all of which can be verified by fact and evidence (and not sour grapes!) - but for this, a book would most certainly be the only way as I could write for weeks and weeks about it.

So, now you know - feel free to ask away!

Roo.
Last edited by Roo on Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Mike Bull
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Mike Bull » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:17 pm

That tale makes my heart weep to the point that I don't really know what else to say. The poor old thing... :cry:
ss-nomadic-at-sea-full-final-emil-besirevic.jpg
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'I am not what is called a "civilized man", Professor. I have done with society for reasons that seem good to me.'

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Renegadenemo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Renegadenemo » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:39 pm

Let me see if I've got this down...

The boat came up for sale so the NPS made a big fuss until the government (DSD) woke up and bought her and ultimately set up the NCT so the bureaucrats could bugger about in their trademark, cyclic manner involving any journey from A to B taking in the rest of the alphabet. Once the boat arrived the NPS rapidly became a pain in NCT's collective, bureaucratic arse for museological heresy and an infuriating ability to get stuff done without endless committee meetings so, being a threat to the 'proper' way of doing things, they had to go. Did I miss anything?

The HLF tried every trick in the book to get rid of me... did they ever.
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

"As to reward, my profession is its own reward;" Sherlock Holmes.

I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who’s half a man,
Or the man who’s half a boy.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Roo
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Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:38 pm

Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Roo » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:37 pm

Yes - that pretty much nails it square on the head.

Initially, the original plan was to raise the money ourselves but in the short time available, we just couldn't do it. I can only imagine where the project would be now had we had a few more months time and been successful. For that year we were officially involved, the ship was a resounding success with report after report of successes in the news. But in the end, it boiled down to the old adage, 'it's our train set and you can't play with it'.

In another scenario, the ship would be known all over the world by now and open to all (visitors and volunteers) in every way conceivable. I'm 100% sure that we would have had a hugely successful fundraising campaign too - but sadly, the complete opposite is now true. The stupid thing is, despite all the evidence, investigations and reports stating overwhelming concern, this Trust just doesn't want to listen and really believes they are going to have a real success on their hands. But of course, being Government, no matter if it is a blindingly obvious failure, they will still get their bonuses and champagne corks will fly along with pats on the back 'for returning this ship to the people'.

How do you stop something like this from happening? (And that's an actual question!)

Roo.

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Renegadenemo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Renegadenemo » Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:26 pm

How do you stop something like this from happening? (And that's an actual question!)
You'd probably be better employed searching out a cure for cancer.

So far as I'm aware there's no cure for runaway bureaucracy. The fundamentals of it are that individuals of exceedingly poor leadership and decision-making ability gravitate to this sort of environment so their inadequacies are overlooked in their collective ability to wield power, which they do by fair discussion and voting around a table - supposedly.
Unfortunately though,bureaucracy is one of those idealistic notions that only ever work on paper because human nature wins every time and with a project like yours the mechanism that's designed to move things forwards ends up going into reverse instead.
Let me explain... bureaucrats - being inadequate in terms of leadership skills - are by their very nature ****-scared of all the other bureaucrats because if one of them gets a little uppity the rest don't have the collective balls to slap him or her back into line. This is why they have to vote on everything so they can rein in any individual who shows the slightest tendency towards unilateral decision making. This renders their advancement through any task self-regulating and painfully slow yet it generally moves forwards and so long as those awaiting a result have the patience of Stone Henge it will usually get to where it wants to go.
When bureaucracy gets its teeth, well, perhaps withered gums would be more appropriate, into something it understands - buying new benches for the municipal park or giving the town hall a lick of paint, for example, it can storm along at a good snail's pace but where it really comes unglued is when presented with, a. something it doesn't readily understand (ships and such) and b. potential differences of public opinion. Next thing you know they've all lost their fragile, little comfort zone and start frantically voting against everything in sight because, as individuals, they're all petrified that any decision they make will come back to bite them. That's why it takes months to get new batteries for the smoke alarms.
All is not lost, however... as I once wrote in the diary,
However, the chink in bureaucratic armour is to get one of them thinking a colleague might steal an advantage and get their puckered lips a rung closer to that great arse in the sky so it’s usually possible to get someone to hear you out.
I'd say about the only thing you can do now is cultivate respectability amongst historians, naval architects, historic shipping organisations, the media, anyone and everyone. Become the recognised and foremost authority on your ship and recruit respected people and organisations who frighten the tinpot bureaucrats even more then they scare one another and suddenly you'll find that you have their ear. Or find a cure for cancer and win a Nobel prize.
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

"As to reward, my profession is its own reward;" Sherlock Holmes.

I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who’s half a man,
Or the man who’s half a boy.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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rob565uk
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by rob565uk » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:35 pm

Renegadenemo wrote:
How do you stop something like this from happening? (And that's an actual question!)
You'd probably be better employed searching out a cure for cancer.

So far as I'm aware there's no cure for runaway bureaucracy. .
Bill's response above reminded me of the discovery of Administratium:

Administratium: a New Element

Investigators at a major research institution recently discovered the heaviest element known to science and have tentatively named it Administratium.

Administratium has no protons or electrons, thus having an atomic number of 0. It has, however, 1 neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of a meson-like particle called morons. It is also surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes into contact with.

According to the discoverers, a minute amount of Administratium caused one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second.

Administratium has a half-life of approximately three years. It does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Administratium's mass will actually increase over time, since with each reorganization some of the morons inevitably become neutrons forming new isotopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Administratium is spontaneously formed whenever moron concentration reaches a certain level. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as the Critical Morass.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it

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Mike Bull
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Mike Bull » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:44 am

:lol:
'I am not what is called a "civilized man", Professor. I have done with society for reasons that seem good to me.'

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