An Australian billionaire has revealed plans to build a replica of the Titanic cruise ship, with plans to set it sail along the original sunken ship’s path from England to New York.
Real estate and coal magnate Clive Palmer announced Monday that he has signed an agreement with a state-owned Chinese company, CSC Jinling Shipyard, to build in their shipyard a modernized version of the Titanic, the infamous ship that crashed into an iceberg and sank in 1912, killing more than 1,500 people.
“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,” Palmer said in a statement.
Placing a bet that the lure of the Titanic name will be greater than the deadly legacy it carries, Palmer said he will call the ocean liner Titanic II. He expects the ship, with room for 1,680 passengers, to make its maiden voyage four years from now, in 2016.
The announcement comes just weeks after the world marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the original Titanic. The milestone anniversary saw the release of the iconic 1990s “Titanic” movie in 3-D, an auction of the ship’s memorabilia and a cruise that retraced the ship’s very path, which, should be noted, ran into trouble due to weather before it even left dock.
Palmer, who was listed last year as Australia’s fifth-richest person, with an estimated net worth of more than $5.2 billion, according to BRW magazine, did not provide a cost estimate for what it will take to recreate the legendary ship in modern times.
The Titanic II will have four smoke stacks to make it look like the coal-powered original, but they will be decoration only for the diesel-powered ship. The structural changes to the ship will include using welding rather than rivets, and using an enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for increased maneuverability, according to Palmer.
Calling the project “a tribute to the spirit of the men and women who worked on the original Titanic,” Palmer said he recruited a historical research team to lead design work for the new ship.
The Australian also announced he has established a new shipping company, Blue Star Line Pty., and will work with CSC Jinling Shipyard to build three other luxury ships, in addition to the Titanic II.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.