Back in April, only weeks after the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, Australian billionaire and mining magnet Clive Palmer announced that he was funding the construction of a modern day replica.
"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," Palmer said in a statement. He deemed the project "a tribute to the spirit of the men and women who worked on the original Titanic."
Based on earlier efforts to resurrect the great ship, I estimated the cost of such a venture to run north of $500 million. Palmer, however, has a financial advantage with his more than $5 billion fortune and a memorandum of understanding with Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to build the vessel. Late last month, his newly created Blue Star Line company (a play on the original White Star Line that created the first Titanic) announced that it had hired Finnish-based Deltamarin to do a full review of the project. The highly respected marine engineering firm will ensure the vessel will be compliant with all current safety and construction regulations, as well as meeting the design criteria laid down by Blue Star Line.
After the review process concludes, the project will then be cleared to start construction, with late 2012 the expected start time. The ship is scheduled to undertake its maiden voyage in 2016.
“Titanic II will be a regular feature on the transatlantic route between the U.K. and USA,” Palmer said in a statement. “This magnificent vessel is being constructed in memory of the heroic people who served on the first ship, as well as the passengers who sadly shared their fate."
“We also want to recognise the artists and artisans whose skill, creativity and dexterity has never been fully recognised because of the ship’s limited service," he added.
While the Titanic II will visually share the same aesthetics as her predecessor, below the water line it will be a modern, more efficient vessel. Gone will be the coal-fired engines, replaced with cleaner diesel-powered engines. Also new will be a bulbous bow for greater fuel efficiency, an enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for increased maneuverability, and welding in place of rivets.
According to the news release, more than 20,000 people have signed up on the Blue Star Line website expressing interest in the project and future bookings. Ticket details have yet to be released.