AUSTRALIAN mining entrepreneur Clive Palmer has unveiled blueprints for Titanic II, a modern replica of the doomed ocean liner, although he stopped short of calling the vessel unsinkable.
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.
But the three passenger classes will be prevented from mingling, as in 1912, he said.
"I'm not too superstitious," Palmer said when asked whether recreating a ship best known for sinking was tempting fate.
White Star Line, the operator of the original ship, had said the Titanic was designed to be unsinkable. Some 1,500 people died on Titanic's maiden voyage in 1912 from Southampton to New York after the ship collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic.
Palmer, who created Blue Star Line last year, declined to make a similar boast.
"Anything will sink if you put a hole in it," Palmer said.
"I think it would be very cavalier to say it."
Unlike the original, Titanic II will have more than enough space in its lifeboats for every person on board and will have additional escape staircases. Markku Kanerva, sales director at Deltamarin, the Finnish company designing the ship, said it would be the "safest cruise ship in the world."
Palmer didn't answer questions about the project's cost. Although the Titanic was the world's largest ship in her time, she would be smaller than many of today's modern cruise ships.
"It's not about the money," Palmer said. "I've got enough money for it."
Forbes estimated Palmer's net worth to be US$795 million in 2012.
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."
He hoped building would begin later this year, and the maiden voyage, recreating the trans-Atlantic crossing of the original, would take place in 2016, he said.
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