When Australian mining billionaire, Clive Plamer expressed his desire to replicate the Titanic ship that sunk in 1912 and put it back on the waters, everyone must have thought he was going bananas. Well, the sequel to the doomed liner that sank 100 years ago was announced on Tuesday – after its designer claimed it would be the ‘most safe cruise ship in the world’ with ample lifeboats.
With hubris akin to that of the 1912 original, Markku Kanerva said that ‘from a safety perspective’ there was no vessel on Earth which compared to the new boat.
He said that it had more than enough lifeboats and that the hull was stronger than the wooden original because it was made from steel composite.
Despite his confidence the mastermind behind the project, brash Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer, refused say it was ‘unsinkable’.
He said: ‘I think anything will sink if you put a hole in it. I think you’d be very cavalier to say something like that.
‘I think people in the past have done that and lived to regret it.’
The blueprint for the Titanic II was unveiled in New York for the first time along with computer generated images of the inside.
They bear a startling resemblance to the 1997 James Cameron film about the ship, which starred Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio, and show that many of the original features including the famous Grand Staircase will feature in the new boat.
The six-day maiden voyage will take place in late 2016 and will be be from Southampton to New York to ‘complete the journey’ started all those years ago.
Just like in 1912 there will be three classes of passenger and those with different tickets will not be able to move between the classes, though there will be more toilets for the lower decks than the original.
Everyone on board will however be provided with early-20th-century-style clothes and undergarments in their cabins to get them in the mood.
Whilst there will be air conditioning there will be no TVs and no Internet in a bid to get back to the ‘romance’ of a bygone age.
Professor Palmer outlined his bold vision in which the Titanic II would be ‘carrying the hopes and dreams of people everywhere’ and represent ‘the reconciliation of man’.
There will be capacity for 2,435 passengers and 900 crew.
There will also be lifeboats that can carry 2,700 and a life rafts with an additional capacity of 800.
The original Titanic had just 16 wooden lifeboats that accommodated 1,178 people, one third of the total capacity.
Some 1,502 people died when it sank on April 15 1912.
It was one of the worst peacetime disasters the world has ever seen.
At the launch of Titanic II, which began with a guitar rendition of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’, Professor Palmer explained that the ship will be 883ft long, which is three inches longer than the original.
It will have a tonnage of 55,800 tonnes compared to 53,210 of the original.
It will have a maximum speed of 24 knots, the same as the first Titanic.
Other original features which will also appear on Titanic II include the Turkish baths, the Cafe Parisien, the two ‘Millioniare Suites’, the Chart Room, and the quarters belonging to Titanic Master Captain Edward Smith.
For entertainment guests can enjoy the casino, cinema or shopping area.
The blueprint shows that there will even the same ‘Marconi room’ where the Titanic sent out its final SOS.
Whereas the original was built by the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, in a sign of how times have changed the Titanic II is being constructed by state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard.
Professor Palmer refused to reveal how much he is paying to build Titanic II but claimed there had already been significant interest, including from celebrities.
He said: ‘40,000 people had registered for tickets on the ship’s website with 16 offering between $750,000 and $1m to be on the opening voyage.’
He added that on the first trip he would be ‘in third class twiddling the fiddle like Leonardo Di Caprio did in the film’.
Mr Kanerva, of Finnish boat designers Deltamarin, added: ‘I can assure you that from a safety point of view it will be absolutely the most safe cruise ship in the world.’
‘We are taking into account all of the possible incidents and accidents and we try to simulate all of those occasions.’
‘Collision is the most common accident we are talking about’.
The launch, on the USS Intrepid moored on a pier in Manhattan, was met with a mixed reaction by relatives of those who survived the original sinking.
Helen Benzinger, the great granddaughter of Molly Brown, an American heiress who was on board Titanic, said that she was ‘thrilled’ at the new design.
The family of the Capt Smith however have said the replica is ‘in bad taste’.