In 2015 it was announced that the long-awaited working replica of the Titanic, Titanic II, would be held off until 2018, two years after work was originally to be complete on the historic vessel.
Work on the ship, however, has still not begun with some claiming that the Australian billionaire behind the project may have cash-flow problems.
The $500-million ship is the brainchild of Clive Palmer, owner of shipping company Blue Star Line and a mining magnate who earned his millions in real estate. Palmer initially announced the massive project in 2012 and the ship was arranged to set off on its maiden voyage in 2016.
Despite the massive delays, Palmer stressed throughout 2015 that the project was simply delayed and not canceled.
In early December 2015, however, Guardian Australia reported that Palmer seemed unable to draw on private reserves to bail out one of his key assets, the Queensland Nickel refinery at Yabulu which employs 800 people, suggesting that he may be struggling to maintain his previous big-spending lifestyle.
Although 2015 appeared to be a comeback year for the tycoon-turned-politician, the paper alleged that his charity, the Palmer Care Foundation, held just $104; he had paused his contributions to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Australia; and he was selling QNI company jet.
Although descendants of those who lost their lives on the first Titanic may be happy to hear that Palmer’s Titanic promise may be put on ice, there is reported to be another replica already under construction.
Chinese state-owned Seven Star Energy Investment began construction on the virtual carbon copy of the White Star Line vessel in May 2015, estimating it would take the $160 million project 26 months to complete – the same amount of time it took to construct the original ship in Harland and Wolff in Belfast at the beginning of the 20th century.
This replica will never reach the open sea, however, and will remain permanently docked 900 miles inland as the centerpiece of a theme park on the River Qi in China's landlocked Sichuan Province.
The ship will act as an attraction ride recreating the ship’s collision with an iceberg.
"When the ship hits the iceberg, it will shake, it will tumble," said Seven Star CEO, Su Shaojun.
"It will capsize and water will come in. We will let people experience water coming in using sound and light effects, and LED light effects. They will think: 'The water will drown me. I must escape for my life.'"
When completed, Palmer’s Titanic II would look like an exact replica of the original Titanic which sunk in 1912. It would be larger, however, in keeping with modern safety standards, coming in four meters wider, according to current maritime regulations. The hull of the ship was also to be welded and not riveted as the original Titanic was.
Originally set to undertake the exact passage made by the Titanic in 1912, the Titanic II was to be constructed in state-owned Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling, and the route it would take was later changed from the fatal one of its predecessor to a journey from Jiangsu, China to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
The reboot was be updated in other ways also, although it would carry on the three-tiered passenger class system among ticket holders over its nine floors and 840 cabins.
"The new Titanic will of course have modern evacuation procedures, satellite controls, digital navigation and radar systems and all those things you'd expect on a 21st century ship," said James McDonald, the global marketing director of Blue Star Line in 2015.
Suspicions have been raised as to the state of the project, however, with construction on the vessel still not under way. Although our technology is better 104 years on, considering that the original Titanic took seven years to build, the thought of finishing by 2018 even now seems unlikely.
Blue Star Line has not updated the information on the Titanic II project for two years, with some areas remaining incomplete, and they have not tweeted or released a press release since 2014. The Blue Star Line trademark has also been listed as abandoned since March 2015.
The Titanic II, it seems, is just another far from flattering way in which the Australian media can describe Palmer and his penchant for big ideas that don’t always work out.
The iron ore baron started Zeppelin International in 2010, a company that would investigate the possibility of the rigid airship being employed once again for commercial use, despite catastrophes such as the Hindenburg, which crashed in New Jersey in 1937 killing 37 people.
“What they had was the wrong sort of gas in them at that time,’’ he ventured to explain at the time.
He later revealed to Crikey that the business would be looking into other investments, especially beef cattle, and not concentrating on zeppelins.
— The Australian (@australian) March 20, 2015
The Titanic II would also not be the first big and bizarre tourist venture of Palmer’s that ended before completion. He is reported to have ordered 117 giant robot dinosaurs to be imported from China to his golf resort on the Sunshine Coast so he could recreate his very own Jurassic Park. One of the mechanical dinosaurs still stands over one of the holes on the course.
In recent years, he has made a foray into politics and, in fact, he announced a run for federal office in Australia in 2012. He went on to found his own political party, the Palmer United Party, in April 2013.
2012 was also the year in which he voiced his concern about an alleged CIA campaign to end the coal mining industry in Australia, claiming that US President Barack Obama was directly involved in the sabotage.
The mining magnate called a press conference in Brisbane four years ago to claim that the CIA and Obama, along with the Rockefeller Foundation, where backing green groups running attacks on Australian mining.