Billionaire Clive Palmer Plans To Build Titanic II In China, But Skeptics Point To Doubts

on May 03 2012 10:52 AM
Titanic Tourism
A memorial cruise for the Titanic stopping in Cobh, Ireland on April 9, carrying enthusiasts and tourists from around the world. Reuters

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer announced plans on Monday to build a successor to the Titantic cruise liner -- only this time the ship will be constructed in a Chinese shipyard and will be escorted across the Atlantic by the Chinese navy.

The ship will begin construction in 2013, is slated to be sailing by 2016, and could cost around half a billion dollars to build; a spokesman for Palmer mentioned that the final price remained as yet unknown. Palmer has already signed an agreement with the Jinling Shipyard near the city of Nanjing, a part of the country's state-owned Sinotrans & CSC Co., a major maritime logistics and shipbuilding company. The Chinese navy would be invited to escort Titanic II on its maiden voyage to New York, Palmer told reporters.

The ship is meant to be a modern replica, roughly the same size as the original at 40,000 tons and 270 meters in length, but with upgraded ammenities and facilities. Palmer told the media that his vessel will have 840 rooms over nine decks, just like the first Titanic.

The Titanic II will take into consideration mistakes made in the design of its predecessor and will include an adequate number of liferafts.

Building the new Titanic in China is not a bizarre decision. Measured in gross tons produced, South Korea was the world's largest shipbuilder in 2011, but China trailed closely behind and actually led world production in 2010.

Although Chinese shipbuilding has surged ahead in recent years and the country is now increasingly proficient at building large container ships, tankers, and bulk carriers, China's shipyards are not known for sophisticated cruise liner construction. Some experts doubt whether such an ambitious project as the Titanic II could be finished in time.

A review of Jinling Shipyard's website revealed that the company markets oil tankers, roll-on roll-off vehicle carriers, bulk carriers, and oil platform tenders --but no cruise liners.

Greg Johnson, an analyst at Shore Capital Group, told Bloomberg that the new venture would be a difficult one. Johnson said that Palmer was starting from scratch with no experience.

Although the mining mogul has an empire including investments in golf courses, mining, smelting, and athletics, he has little experience in shipbuilding. BRW, an Australian business magazine, ranked Palmer as that country's fifth wealthiest man, with around 5 billion Australian dollars (roughly equivalent to U.S. dollars).

The original Titantic carried some of the world's leading business figures on its doomed maiden voyage across the Atlantic, but struck an iceberg off Canada's Newfoundland and sank on April 15, 1912, killing 1,500. It was considered unsinkable at the time of its creation.

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