In 1907, the White Star Line inaugurated Southampton as its primary port for transatlantic steamers arriving in and departing from England. This placed the French port of Cherbourg about 80 nautical miles away, or about 5 hours at the speed ships traveled in 1907.

Cherbourg did not have the full facilities to accommodate the large steamers in her docks, so any ships would have to be anchored out in the roadstead and serviced by company tenders, which would steam out to a ship to embark or disembark passengers, baggage, and small items of cargo.

White Star Line had two tenders, Nomadic and Traffic, and these had been specifically constructed by Harland & Wolff to work at Cherbourg, and service the Olympic-class liners, plus other ships belonging to the line too. Nomadic could carry up to 1,000 First and Second Class passengers, whilst Traffic could carry 500 Third Class passengers and was also equipped with conveyors for loading mail-sacks.


On 14th June, 1911, the two Cherbourg tenders serviced Olympic on her maiden voyage, and on 10th April, 1912, they serviced Titanic , although it would be the first and only time. Titanic arrived late because of the near-miss with New York soon after leaving Southampton, and dropped anchor in the roadstead at 6.30p.m., about 1 hour late.

At 8.00p.m., Titanic raised her anchor, and turned to face the way she had arrived 90 minutes earlier, before heading off, fully illuminated, for Queenstown.