If the James Cameron 3D release of Titanic wasn’t a realistic enough experience for those fascinated by the ill-fated ship, an Australian billionaire will now make it possible to sail on an exact replica of the RMS Titanic — get ready for Titanic II.
Weeks after the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking, Clive Palmer, Australia’s fifth-richest person according to BRW Magazine, announced Monday that he has signed a memorandum of understanding with CSC Jinling Shipyard, a state-owned Chinese company, to build an exacting replica of the early 20th-Century luxury liner.
Titanic II will sail from England to New York on its maiden voyage, scheduled for late 2016. Palmer told the Associated Press that, “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.”
This wouldn’t be the first replica proposal. In 2000, South African millionaire South African millionaire Sarel Gous suggested plans for a Titanic II that were eventually scrapped. Palmer said at a news conference that insufficient funding and inability to commission a shipyard were reasons why the previous attempts failed.
The Australian did not provide cost estimates, but said that the design work for the Titanic II has already begun. Many of the major changes will occur beneath the water line, where updated technology will allow for the hull to be welded, rather than riveted; a bulbous bow will be added for greater fuel efficiency; and an enlarged rudder and bow thrusters will be installed for better maneuverability. Although the ship will be diesel-powered, it will carry the original Titanic‘s signature four smoke stacks for decorative purposes.
At the time of its creation, the 883-foot Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ocean liner in history, but it would be a minnow by today’s standards: the biggest passenger ships at sea, Royal Carribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, clock in at 1,180 feet. Still, Brett Jardine, general manager for Australia and New Zealand in the industry group International Cruise Council, said Titanic II could prove to be a competitor in the luxury market. “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?” Jardine said.