Billionaire to build Titanic replica

An Australian billionaire said he will build a hi-tech replica of the Titanic at a Chinese shipyard and its maiden voyage in late 2016 will be from England to New York, just like its namesake planned.

Weeks after the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the original Titanic, Clive Palmer announced he had signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to build the Titanic II.

“It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic, but ... will have state-of-the-art 21st-century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems,” said Mr Palmer in a statement. He called the project “a tribute to the spirit of the men and women who worked on the original Titanic”.

More than 1,500 people died after the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its first voyage. It was the world’s largest and most luxurious ocean liner at the time.

Mr Palmer built a fortune in property on Australia’s Gold Coast tourist strip before becoming a coal mining magnate. BRW magazine reported he was Australia’s fifth-richest person last year with over AU$5bn (€3.39bn).

Palmer said at a news conference that previous attempts to build a Titanic replica failed because proponents failed to raise enough money and commission a shipyard. Titanic II is the first of four luxurious cruise ships Palmer has commissioned CSC Jinling Shipyard to build.

Palmer did not provide a cost estimate. He said he had set up a new shipping company, Blue Star Line Pty Ltd, and that design work for the Titanic II had begun with assistance from a historical research team.

The diesel-powered ship will have four smoke stacks like the coal-powered original, but they will be purely decorative.

The most obvious changes from the original Titanic would be below the water line, including welding rather than rivets, a bulbous bow for greater fuel efficiency, and an enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for increased manoeuvrability, said Mr Palmer.

Brett Jardine, general manager for Australia and New Zealand in the industry group, International Cruise Council, said Titanic II would be small by modern standards but could prove viable at the top end of the market.

“From a marketing point of view, many will embrace it and perhaps there’ll be some that wouldn’t,” said Mr Jardine. “If you’ve got a niche, it’s going to work. Why go out there and try to compete with the mass market products that are out there now?”

While the Titanic II would carry about 1,680 passengers, most modern cruise ships create economies of scale by catering for more than 2,000 passengers, he said.


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