Tuesday 12 May 2020

Titanic II

An artist's impression of the future ship Titanic II

There is a plan in progress to build a working replica of the doomed ocean liner RMS Titanic. The original sank during an Atlantic crossing on the 15th of April 1912 and became the most famous shipwreck in history. The plan to recreate her was publicly announced by the Australian businessman Clive Palmer on the centenary of the sinking, the 15th of April 2012. To achieve this goal, he has set up the company Blue Star Line, an obvious adaptation from the name of the owners of Titanic, White Star Line. Titanic II will be as closely as possible an exact copy of the original, and it may not be the only one. Further copies will be categorized as "Reconstructed Olympic-class" ocean liners. There is already another one half-built in China, although this is planned not to be a real seagoing ship and only to be moored on a lake as a kind of floating hotel. Titanic II cannot be an exact replica of Titanic in every single functional detail. Modern shipbuilding practices, environmental regulations and maritime health-and-safety laws prohibit it. For example: it will need to have more lifeboats, for obvious reasons. It will also have to cost comparatively less because Clive Palmer's team have a much smaller budget than White Star Line's. Titanic's power-plant was a trio of coal-fired reciprocating steam engines. No modern shipyard could recreate these; in fact the technology was considered obsolete decades ago. What's more, with such engines Titanic would have broken every modern port's emission and pollution standards hands down. Titanic II will have a diesel-electric drive with directional thrusters; the propellers mounted on pods which rotate, giving better manoeuvrability. There will be four passenger and crew observation platforms on the top deck which look like the four funnels on Titanic. The hull will be welded, not riveted like the original. It will need a slightly higher bridge, a shallower draft, a simplified deck plan and other minor changes that will make Titanic II safer, more fuel-efficient and cheaper than the ship she is modelled on... I certainly hope she is safer! Source: https://www.bluestarline.com.au.

At the time of writing, construction of Titanic II has yet to commence; however, the project is steadily ticking along through its various delays. A shipyard in China has been signed up, as have other building contractors. The idea of resurrecting Titanic like this has been harshly criticized. Many people think it is rather ghoulish and heartless, making a mockery of the terrible tragedy of the 1912 sinking which cost the lives of over fifteen hundred souls. However, among Mr Palmer's many supporters are Helen Benziger who is the great-granddaughter of the famous Titanic survivor, "the unsinkable" Molly Brown. It could be interpreted as the perfect tribute to the unfortunate people who never made it off the ship as she sank beneath the freezing waves. It is also, in a way, giving the lost vessel a brand new life when it was so suddenly and prematurely taken on her maiden voyage. Despite the difference in its workings, Titanic II will reproduce the travelling experience for the passenger exactly. The public areas and accommodation will be perfect facsimiles, the crew will wear period costumes and the dining menu will match the old White Star gourmet. I can imagine many people being curious to experience that. I think I would. Clive Palmer has been described as an "eccentric billionaire" and I warm to those kinds of characters, a bit like Robert Bigelow. The fact that a person can be successful in this conformist world without having a conformist personality makes me very happy. I do hope Titanic II is built and we once again see the magnificent profile of the ill-fated ship sailing the high seas.

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