By Brian Dunn

Call it fanciful, foolhardy or brilliant, but Australian businessman Clive Palmer’s dream of building Titanic II is moving forward. He has engaged Finnish-based naval architecture and engineering firm Deltamarin to help with the design of the replica of the original Titanic that was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Deltamarin’s major projects include Oasis of the Seas, a vast cruise vessel launched in 2009 that carries more than 5,400 passengers, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox, two of the most ground-breaking cruise ship designs in operation today.

Titanic II will be built at CSC Jinling Shipyard, a major Chinese state-owned shipbuilding company in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, founded in 1952. The company is known to have the largest comb-type slipway in the world and has also set a Guinness World Record for the heaviest launch weight of a vessel by side slipway. Jinling Shipyard has delivered and exported hundreds of large vessels to more than 20 countries and is ranked among the top 50 shipbuilders in the world. Its production record includes ro/ro vessels, oil and chemical tankers, platform supply vessels, container vessels, multi-purpose vessels, bulk carriers and floating docks and semi-submarine barges.

Construction is scheduled to begin this June with the maiden voyage set for late 2016 from Southampton to New York, the same route as the original Titanic before it sank on April 15, 1912. Mr. Palmer’s Blue Star Line (the White Star Line owned the Titanic) will operate Titanic II, the first of four luxury cruise ships that he has ordered from Jinling.

Titanic II will have a weight of 55,800 tonnes (versus 52,310 tonnes for Titanic), will be 883 feet long (three inches longer than the original), and feature 839 cabins on nine decks. In addition to being a replica of the original Titanic, it will feature the latest navigational and safety systems and include a gym, squash court, swimming pool, theatre and casino and carry 2,435 passengers and 900 crew. There will be 372 first-class cabins, 206 second-class cabins and 257 third-class cabins.

On its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, Titanic carried 2,224 passengers and crew, well below its capacity of 2,435 passengers and 892 crew. In a nod to the original design, Titanic II will feature a Marconi room, Chart room, and a replica of Captain Smith’s sitting room, bedroom and quarters.

The ship will be powered by 2×8 L +2x12V / MAN, Wärtsilä, MAK (CAT) diesel engines and feature four funnels, similar to the coal-powered original, but they will be for decorative purposes only. Its plates will be welded together, rather than riveted, it will feature a bulbous bow for fuel efficiency and large rudder and 2 x 2,000 Kw Units bow thrusters for smooth operation. The propellers are (Type: Azipod): 3 Electric Pod Propulsion Units (4 blades). The total main engine power will be 48,000 KW which will give Titanic II a service speed of 23 knots.

Mr. Palmer is one of Australia’s wealthiest and most influential businessmen with interests in mining, tourism, shipping, real estate and horse racing. In an interview on 60 Minutes, he said he had no idea what the project will cost and didn’t care. The original Titanic cost $7.5 million to build, equivalent to $400 million today. Forbes magazine estimated Palmer’s net worth at $750 million, while another figure has pegged it closer to $5 billion. Mr. Palmer refused to reveal his worth during the interview, but said the Forbes figure was “too low.”

When asked during one of many tours to promote his new project how much interest there has been from potential passengers, Mr. Palmer replied, “we’ve had over 40,000 enquiries from people all over the world who have expressed an interest in securing a booking for the maiden voyage.” Among them were several willing to pay between $750,000 and $1 million for a first-class cabin. Mr. Palmer said he will be in third class.