Nomadic, Titanic & other historic vessels

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dscottbeddard
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by dscottbeddard »

Good Morning, Mike,

Nomadic has had three surveys carried out which all conclude that she is easily capable of being put back to sea. However, the Nomdic Charitable Trust have not chosen this option because of the costs involved (£7 - £10 million) and also claim she would be unsustainable. Let's look at this closer...

1) No one says she should be in service every day, but even "Steam" days would be a great attraction not just for the general public, but for schools, etc.
2) £10 million is not a lot of money these days (Cutty Sark got an emergency grant of £27 million after her fire, and that was just stage 1!) and operational, Nomadic would be the ultimate Titanic visitor attraction. People would come from all over the world just to sail around the coastline for an hour. Don't forget, this ship carried the rich & famous out to Titanic; including Margaret "the unsinkable Molly" Brown, JJ Astor, Sir Cosmo & Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon, and many more key players in the story. Her interiors are identical to those of Titanic and you simply cannot describe the feeling when you walk onboard......
3) Much more achievable is to return Nomadic to "Operational Condition" as recommended by the company who carried out the Conservation Management Plan. In other words, make her capable of returning to sea at a later date, if the extra funding is available. However, the NCT have so far ignored this advice, so the archaeological surveyor who conducted the surveys and wrote the report, Fred Aldsworth, has resigned from the project! (Fred also wrote the CMP's for Cutty Sark, SS Great Britain, Discover and many more..)
4) Imagine what the ship would do for the tourist industry of Northern Ireland... hotels, restaurants, airlines, other visitor attractions. ALL would benefit, so the sustainability of the ship alone should not be the only criteria taken into consideration. In fact, the Economic Survey carried out by Deloitte in 2007, stated that it was a "no brainer" if the funding was available!

Am I boring you yet??????

The engines from SS Nyanza are of similar size and power, although they are 'triple expansion', whereas Nomadic's engines were 'twin compound'. The cost of £250k is minimal compared to a new propulsion system, which would cost over 10 times that.

Sadly, only the rigging and GA (general arrangement) plans still exist. All Nomadic's builder's plans were either destroyed during WWII bombings, or are buried in the archive in the UFTM (Ulster Folk & Transport Museum). Harland & Wolff gave all of their survivng plans to the museum some years ago - maybe as many as 500,000! - and they remain uncatalogued. They have refused access to search through the plans, even though the World Ship Society offered a delegation of volunteers to do the job for free.....

The NPS has some remarkably clever members, including graphic artists, historians and CGI specialists and work is under way to recreate the interiors of the ship that were ripped out during her restaurant days in Paris, where many of the bulkheads were removed to make her 'open plan' for dining, etc. The NPS has recovered dozens of interior panels, tables, doors, plus much more. This will eventually be restored and returned to the ship, providing the NCT accept it, of course. They are reluctant to work with the NPS, although we have absolutely on idea why! However, we hope to open constructive dialogue with them again shortly and we have offered our assistance in virtually every department of the project. The problem seems to be we have always advocated "Operational Condition" as a restoration vision and cannot understand why that option, which is obviously the best for the ship and the public long-term, has not been embraced.

The vessel is owned by a government department and is subject to a timescale, and a budget. Whatever the Trust intend to achieve must be done by the centenary of the loss of Titanic (April 2012). That is NOT a lot of time for a project such as this. It should be an ongoing restoration, such as that carried out on the SS Great Britain, which took over 20 years!

Nomadic is probably the most important historic ship restoration project in the world today and should be done properly, professionally and sympathetically. She deserves no less............

DSB.
Last edited by dscottbeddard on Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Renegadenemo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Renegadenemo »

The problem seems to be we have always advocated "Operational Condition" as a restoration vision and cannot understand why that option, which is obviously the best for the ship and the public long-term, has not been embraced.
Groan! How depressingly familliar does that sound? Bureaucrats faffing about when the obvious answer is right in front of them. Been there, done that, sacked the useless b'stards and cracked on with the job. Have you had a sniff around Russia for an engine? I was poking about the yards of St Petersburg a few years back and a bloke tried to sell me a steamship for $100K. There's a lot of old machinery lying about up there.
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

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

'It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.' W.C. Fields.
Roo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Roo »

Dear all,

Like David above, I'm part of the Nomadic crowd. In fact, David was the ship's Project Manager for a year and a half before things got suffocated in red tape and politics. My job was a combination of caretaking and maintenance for a year and a half, then the aforementioned plus practically everything else for another year and a half until finally being made redundant at the the tail end of last Summer.

Might I add what a wonderful job all of you are doing. Even though I wasn't born when she succumbed, Bluebird is of such iconic status that she'll be remembered for all time. And you are bringing her back to life so I wish you as much of 'all the very best' as is humanly possible! I look forward with anticipation to the day she takes to the water once more.

It so saddens me that with so many heritage projects, the very people who can do the best job, have the most expertise and have the greatest visions are never the ones actually in charge - though Bluebird seems to be an exception to this rule. But our proud little steamer doesn't have this luck unfortunately.

But I'm posting on here because I was so deeply involved with the ship herself that David thought I would be best placed to answer many of the questions you might have. One of my areas of interest is the engineering side of the ship and I've been investigating her re-engining with the engines currently languishing on Lake Victoria. But as you know, our (and the ship's) biggest stumbling block is the actual Trust who 'manage' her 'restoration'. They have zero desire to see anything done properly - what they want is some sort of static, non floating, Nomadic-shaped arts, conferencing and community centre - the equivalent is like asking the Bluebird to act as a floating 'Mr Whippy', selling ice creams for the tourists visiting Coniston Lake. It seems our hands are well and truly tied. Nevertheless, we will not be walking away - she is simply far too important for that.

So for those of you with questions about the ship and the project, please feel free to ask away - David and I will do our best to answer them for you. Likewise, if you wanted to join our forum, we'd love to see you there.

All the best,

Roo.
Roo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Roo »

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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Renegadenemo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Renegadenemo »

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.

'It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.' W.C. Fields.
Roo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Roo »

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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Renegadenemo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Renegadenemo »

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.

'It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.' W.C. Fields.
Roo
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by Roo »

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 »

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.

'It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.' W.C. Fields.
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rob565uk
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Re: SS Nomadic

Post by rob565uk »

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.

1 in 10 people understands binary. The other one doesn't
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