SS Traffic (1911)

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Traffic 1911 01 - copia.jpg
United Kingdom
Name: SS Traffic
  • White Star flaga.svg White Star Line (1911-1927)
  • Société Cherbourgeoise Transbordement (1927-1934)
  • Société Cherbourgeoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage (1934-1940)
Operator: White Star Line
Port of registry: Cherbourg
Ordered: 19 July 1910
Yard number: 423
Way number: No1
Laid down: 22 December 1910
Launched: 27 April 1911
Completed: 27 May 1911
Maiden voyage: May 31, 1911
In service: 27 May 1911
Renamed: Ingenieur Reibell
Fate: Scrapped by Germans
General characteristics
Tonnage: 640 tons
Length: 186 ft (56.7 m)
Beam: 35 ft (10.7 m)
Height: 14' 0keel to bulkwark
Draught: 8’ 1’’
Decks: 5
Installed power: 1 S.E. boiler with 3 furnaces. Dia 13' 0, length 11' 0.
Propulsion: Twin compound reciprocating powering 2 triple blade propellers.
Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph)
Capacity: 1,200 passengers and mail
Crew: 7 deck crew. 10 engine room crew. 1 Chief engineer. 1 Assistant engineer. 3 officers and 1 captain.

SS Traffic was a tender of the White Star Line, and the fleetmate to the SS Nomadic. She was built for the White Star Line by Harland and Wolff, at Belfast, to serve the Olympic-class ocean liners.


Traffic was one of the vessels commissioned by the White Star Line in 1910 to tender for their new ocean liners RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic, which were too large to dock in Cherbourg harbor. She and her running mate SS Nomadic ferried passengers, their baggage, mail, and ship's supplies to and from large ocean liners moored offshore. She was designed by Thomas Andrews who also designed RMS Titanic.

Harland and Wolff laid down Traffic's keel on 22 December 1910 (yard number 423). She was built on slipway No. 1 next to her sister Nomadic and alongside the SS Patriotic. Later the constructions of the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic will be started. Which were constructed on slipways 2 and 3, of the Arrol Gantry, respectively, and launched her on 27 April 1911, two days after her running mate, SS Nomadic?


The ship is 175 feet (53.5 m) length B.P. 186 feet (56.8 m) long overall and 35 feet (10.7 m) wide, with a gross registered tonnage of 640 tons. Propulsion was provided by 1 S.E. single-ended coal-fired boilers and twin compound reciprocating engines, each driving two triple-bladed propellers of 5.'6 feet (1.6 m) in diameter, which gave a service speed of 9 knots (10.5 mph; 16 km/h).

Traffic is of steel construction, with steel frames, beams, bulkheads and riveted hull plating. She had four working decks with 4 cargo hold spaces beneath. She could carry up to 1,200 passengers when fully loaded.

The Traffic was fitted with electric baggage conveyors, one at the fore end and one at the after end of the bridge deck, for conveying baggage to and from the upper deck. She will also have accommodations to transporting a large number of passengers, and a complete installation of electric lights.

Her mid ship area was an open space with benches for passengers to wait. There are some lavatories located at the front and aft for passengers to use. Crew spaces were located in the deck below.

Early life serving Olympic & Titanic[edit]

The vessel then underwent sea trials on 18 May 1911, before being handed over to the White Star Line on 27 May 1911. Two days later, on 29 May, Nomadic and Traffic attended RMS Olympic as she carried out her sea trials. The two tenders then sailed to Southampton, and then on to Cherbourg, where they were based. Traffic carried third class passengers, as well as mail, cargo and baggage, out to the White Star Line's large ocean liners, while Nomadic carried first and second class passengers. Traffic took passengers and mail out to Titanic on 10 April 1912 while the liner lay moored in the roads off the port, preparatory to beginning her maiden voyage across the Atlantic. Traffic could accommodate 1,200 third-class passengers, considerably more than Olympic and Titanic's actual third-class passenger capacity. Despite this, Nomadic also had a small third-class area below deck to accommodate for Traffic's over-spill of passengers.

Wartime and postwar[edit]

Traffic continued as a tender during the First World War, served as a minesweeper for the French Navy between 1917 and 1919, supported troop transports and carrying British, American and Canadian troops at the end of the First World War. Traffic and Nomadic were sold to Société Cherbourgeoise Transbordement in 1927, and continued to serve as tenders, but now called on any large vessels using the port. Traffic accidentally collided with RMS Homeric on 5 June 1929, and sustained some damage to the starboard side of the hull. After enquiries revealed that Traffic was notoriously difficult to handle, new propellers were produced by Harland and Wolff and fitted in October 1929. The new propellers proved effective, but Traffic was nevertheless involved in another collision in December, 1929, this time involving SS Minnewaska of the Atlantic Transport Line. There was only minor damage. Minnewaska was involved in another collision two years later, this time with Nomadic on 29 November 1931, during which Nomadic's bow was damaged. Nomadic and Traffic's owners became Société Cherbourgeoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage in 1934, and both ships were repainted in the new livery and renamed, Traffic becoming Ingénieur Riebell and Nomadic Ingénieur Minard.


In September 1939, Ingenieur Reibell was once again requisitioned by the French Navy, and this time transformed into a mine layer ship, registered as X23. When the German army took control of the port in June 1940 X23 was sunk in the harbor. Afterwards the ship was raised and used as a coastal patroller. Due to her disappointing performance in this role, she can only run 6 knots (for which she was not designed) they simply scrapped the former tender at Cherbourg. This was witnessed by a local ma called René Leledier, who many years before has served on board as an apprentice.[1]

See also[edit]

  • SS Nomadic - fleetmate of SS Traffic which is the only surviving White Star Line vessel in existence.


  1. ^ Melia, Phillipe; Vanhoutte, Fabrice (2004). S/s Nomadic, le petit frère du Titanic Philippe Melia en Fabrice Vanhoutte. ISOETE Cherbourg. ISBN 2-913-920-39-X.

Harland and Wolff's ship order book

External links[edit]