Australian billionaire Clive Palmer recently announced his intention to build a cruise ship which would be as close to an exact replica of the Titanic as possible. This new ship, “Titanic II”, bears the same name as a horrible movie which was released straight to DVD in 2010. In the movie, a replica of the Titanic was built and again sunk on its maiden voyage. In addition, Mr. Palmer’s project is actually the second attempt to build a modern full-scale replica of the Titanic. In 1998, South African businessman Sarel Gous announced a similar project, but ultimately abandoned it when he was unable to secure funding. (I can’t imagine why.)
This movie and two separate projects indicate there is a tremendous level of interest in bringing the Titanic back to life. In a similar vein, Robert Ballard, who discovered the original wreck, has proposed a “save the Titanic” project – slowing the decay with antibacterial paint – in hopes to preserve it into a virtual museum. Ballard actually uncovered several shipwrecks – the Bismarck, the Yorktown, and John Kennedy’s PT-109 – and yet, the only one that generates interest enough for museum preservation and modern replica reconstruction – is the Titanic. Why?
When one looks at well-known maritime disasters, war usually plays a part. Of Mr. Ballard’s many famous discoveries, the Titanic is the only civilian vessel. (And while he explored the wreck of the Lusitania, he is not credited with discovering it.) Also, the Lusitania was sunk as part of a wartime action. What sets the Titanic apart was that it was one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters on record. Beyond that, it was a state-of-the-art vessel – which sank on its maiden voyage, no less! All other notable peacetime maritime disasters happened with ships well past their prime and with passengers who were not among the wealthiest individuals alive – such as John Jacob Astor IV.
The Titanic, then, stands singularly in naval history: an opulent, cutting-edge ship, with its passenger list boasting many wealthy, famous names, and sunk, not by an act of war, but instead, an act of arrogance and incompetence on behalf of its captain, Captain Smith, and the micro-managing corporate executive in charge, Bruce Ismay. After being catapulted back into public consciousness through James Cameron’s blockbuster movie, it seems that the popular imagination will simply not let the story end after the credits roll.
Enter Clive Palmer’s plan to build a modern full-scale replica of the ocean liner and set sail on the seas once again. Palmer’s proposal is to mirror the original Titanic as close as possible including sticking fairly close to the original ship’s deck plan. (As the original wood paneling violates modern fire standards for ocean-going vessels, the Titanic will most likely have wood veneers as did the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2.) In addition, the following technological updates are planned:
- Two diesel, rather than three steam-powered plants will allow greater space, providing better housing for the ship’s crew and additional staff.
- The shape of the original four smoke-stacks will be maintained, (the fourth was always fake, as there were only three power plants for each of the three propellers) with the forward two being converted to observation decks, given the new power plant design.
- The hull plates will be welded rather than riveted.
- The ship will carry the adequate number of lifeboats for its entire rooster of passengers and crew.
- The original three-propellers-and-rudder will be replaced by a single static, central propeller and two azimuth thrusters.
- The bow will be more bulbous in an effort to increase fuel efficiency.
Of course, there are numerous other, less notable, changes to update the Titanic design, and, as is standard practice today, the ship is slated to be manufactured in China.
And speaking of Titanic replicas made in China, we have a whole page of handcrafted model Titanics for you to peruse.
… All aboard?