An Australian billionaire is getting ready to build a new version of the Titanic that could set sail in late 2016.
Mining tycoon Clive Palmer unveiled his plans for building a nearly identical version of the long foundered vessel at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.
The ship will largely recreate the design and decor of the fabled original, with some modifications to keep it in line with current safety rules and shipbuilding practices, and the addition of some modern comforts such as air conditioning, Palmer said at a press conference in New York.
“Titanic was the ship of dreams, Titanic II is the ship where dreams come true,” he said at the launch.
The Australian businessman, who owns an Australian mining company and other businesses, said he has received an overwhelming response from prospective passengers who want to travel on Titanic II.
He predicted that it “will be a real financial bonanza” so successful that he will “have to build Titanic III.”
Titanic II will be built by Chinese state-owned CSC Jinling Shipyard, which is already building four ore carriers for Palmer’s mining business, he said. The contract to build Titanic II has not yet been signed, Palmer said.
“Oh, probably next week, something like that,” Palmer said, when asked when that would happen. “Most things I say I’ll do I do.”
Palmer said an unknown when the original ship sailed – climate change – may play into a positive for the new ship’s fate.
“One of the benefits of global warming is there hasn’t been as many icebergs in the North Atlantic these days,” Palmer said.
Mr Palmer says he plans to take full advantage of Titanic II’s third class facilities.
“That’ll be where the most fun will be,” he said. “For me that’s the great adventure. I can sit down there, have some Irish stew, talk to somebody and at night I can get up and do the Irish jig. It’ll be a great place to be.”
The chairman of the Blue Star Line said more than 40,000 people had already registered for tickets to take part in Titanic II’s maiden voyage, which will follow the same route the RMS Titanic was travelling when it sank 375 miles (600km) south of Newfoundland in April 1912.
Some Titanic and cruise-ship experts doubt the Titanic II, which Palmer says will regularly sail across the North Atlantic, will be able to attract enough passengers after its maiden voyage.
Some also question whether the new cruise ship desecrates the memory of those who died on the Titanic, writes the USA Today.
Helen Benziger, a descendant of Titanic survivor Margaret Brown, better known as the Unsinkable Molly Brown, said at the press conference that the ship would be a chance to experience the sort of grace and civility she said was sometimes lacking in the modern world, reports Reuters.
“I think it’s a chance to go back in time,” said Benziger, who has joined the project’s advisory board.
The Titanic — the largest and most luxurious cruise ship of its time — departed from Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York in 1912 and made two stops in Europe before striking an iceberg several hundred miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
More than 1,500 people aboard died after the collision.