Titanic Gets Another Maiden Voyage
“The china had never been used. The beds had never been slept in. Titanic was called the ship of dreams. And it was…it really was…”
And so goes the well-known line in the movie about the best-known ship in all of history. The “unsinkable” monster that went down in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage in 1912, taking with it 1,517 souls. But the Titanic will get a second chance in 2016 thanks to Australian billionaire Clive Palmer. The mogul said in a New York news conference he plans to launch a reproduction of Titanic as a tribute to those who built and backed the original ship.
“We will complete the journey. We will sail into New York on the ship they designed,” Palmer said.
The design of the Titanic II—which will soon begin construction in China—is almost identical to the original ship, built in the boatyards of Belfast, Ireland. Set to launch in three years, the ship will take nearly the same route from Southampton to New York as the original. Palmer is funding the construction of the ship himself with a fortune he built from real-estate and coal. Forbes estimated his worth at $895 million, but Australia’s BRW magazine puts it at $4 billion. As the project’s financier, he is the equivalent of J.P. Morgan for the original Titanic.
More than 40,000 have applied to take a ride on the new maiden voyage. Some have even offered to pay $1 million for a first-class cabin. But are they tempting fate?
Palmer made sure he wasn’t when speaking to reporters, stopping short of calling the craft “unsinkable” as the original vessel’s backers did in 1912.
“Anything will sink if you put a hole in it,” he said, adding that one benefit of global warming—if you could call it that—is the reduction of obstacles in Titanic II’s voyage.
“There are not so many icebergs in the North Atlantic these days,” Palmer said.
But Titanic II’s main designer Markku Kanerva—taking on the role of Thomas Andrews in the original ship’s story—is not so coy. “I can assure you, from the safety point of view, it will be absolutely the most safe cruise ship in the world when it is launched,” he said.
Great, way to jinx the whole thing, Kanerva. Can somebody knock on some wood, please? Although the design and safety features are pretty impressive. The outline and most of the interior of Titanic II is an almost exact replica of the original ship—complete with segregated decks, Turkish baths, a smoking room, and the grand staircase—but the new vessel will feature a modern hospital, a helicopter launching pad, full air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. Plus, Titanic II has more than enough lifeboats to go around. When it comes to that detail, history will not be repeating itself.
“They are very safe,” Palmer said of the fleet of lifeboats that Titanic II will carry. “They are modernized. They are enclosed. You could go around the world in them.”
At least some ancestors of Titanic survivors aren’t worried about any bad juju associated with Titanic II. Helen Benziger, the great-granddaughter of Margaret “the unsinkable Molly” Brown, thinks it’s a great idea and Great-Grandma would have agreed.
“She would be the first one in line for a ticket. Absolutely she would love it.“
Titanic historian Philip Littlejohn—whose grandfather, first-class steward Alexander James Littlejohn, is said to have gone white-haired in the single night Titanic sunk—also believes his Granddad would have loved the idea.
“I mean to think that people were still talking about the job that he did over 100 years later and that people were fascinated by the Titanic story,” he told CBS.
I don’t know. Seems a little spooky to me. All the talk about the “souls” that went down with the ship. Hate to have them come back pissed that a bunch of people are up there partying, sailing over their graves. And the great-great-niece of RMS Titanic’s captain, Edward John Smith—who famously went down with his ship in 1912—thinks so, too. Pat Lacey, 91, thinks Smith would be “absolutely horrified” by Palmer’s plans to reconstruct Titanic.
“I can image all the ghosts of people who went down on it, getting up and being cross about it. I certainly do. I don’t understand the mentality of someone who wants to do it really,” she told CBS.
I want more stuff like this!