By Carina Chela, October 2012
We talk to the man who is overseeing Finnish naval architecture firm Deltamarin’s review of the plans for the Titanic II cruise ship, an almost exact replica of the original ocean liner, funded by Australian billionaire Clive Palmer.
Ever since the ocean liner Titanic went down, it has featured in literature and film, and the concept of a replica has been explored by many cruise line enthusiasts. It seems that it takes Australian billionaire to make that dream come true – one who can also stomach a certain amount of scepticism from the general public.
Palmer, a mining tycoon from Queensland, announced in 2012 that he will be financing the construction of the Titanic II as a tribute to the men and women who served on the first vessel. Deltamarin has been commissioned to undertake a full review of the project.
The Titanic sank in 1912, killing more than 1,500 passengers and crew. It is estimated that 66 Finns were on that voyage, 20 of whom survived.
The construction of Titanic II is due to begin as soon as the highly respected Finnish naval architecture and engineering firm Deltamarin ensures that the ship is compliant with all current construction and safety regulations. “Safety and interior decoration are the most challenging parts in this project,” explains Deltamarin’s Markku Kanerva, the Titanic II project supervisor. “Safety regulations today are different than 100 years ago.”
Needless to say, the world will be focusing on the ship’s lifeboats. “Concerning the amount, type and position of lifeboats and lifesaving devices, of course, safety rules are now tougher,” says Kanerva. “But our company’s reference list is full of first-in-the-world references.”
He also mentions that the world’s biggest cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, were developed and built in Finland. Titanic II is “just another challenge which is typical in our industry.” Once the Finns give the green light for the project, construction of the vessel will begin at CSC Jinling Shipyard in China.
Visually, the modern day Titanic will be a twin sister of the original, sharing the same aesthetics as her predecessor.
The Titanic II will have exactly the same dimensions as the original vessel – 270 metres long and 53 meters high – with 840 rooms and nine decks. The only major changes will be below the waterline: the ship’s hull will be welded and not riveted, and diesel-powered engines will take the place of coal-fired ones.
The luxury and beauty will remain, and the famous grand staircase will certainly be there – this time accompanied by new emergency staircases. Another major change is the material used in the interior decoration. The original ship featured wood to a large extent, which is not possible nowadays due to fire safety regulations.
The maiden voyage of the Titanic II is scheduled for 2016. Once it’s ready, the ship will first sail from China to England before retracing the route of the original ship from Southampton to New York City. The vessel will continue to maintain a regular transatlantic route between the UK and the US.
According to press releases, people are already approaching Palmer’s shipping company, Blue Star Line, to express interest in bookings for the ocean liner’s maiden voyage. Though details about ticket prices or dates have not yet been released, more than 20,000 people have already signed up on the company’s website.
Kanerva, who has worked with passenger ships his whole life, is “certainly looking forward” to enjoying the ship’s first trip.
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