2012-04-30 (China Military News cited from Bloomberg) — Australian billionaire Clive Palmer plans to build a 21st-century replica of the Titanic and sail it from England to New York accompanied by the Chinese navy by the end of 2016.
Palmer has signed a first-stage agreement with Nanjing- based CSC Jinling Shipyard to build the ship as part of a planned fleet of luxury liners, the Gold Coast, Queensland-based businessman said in an e-mailed statement today. Palmer’s investments include property developments, coal and iron-ore mining projects, a nickel smelter, a soccer team and a horse stud.
“It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic, but of course it will have state-of-the-art 21st century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems,” said Palmer, 58. “We have invited the Chinese navy to escort Titanic II on its maiden voyage to New York.”
The Titanic, commissioned by White Star Line, was the largest liner in the world when built at just under 270 meters (886 feet) and 53 meters high. It sank after hitting an iceberg east of Newfoundland on April 15, 1912, costing the lives of 1,514 passengers and crew, according to the statement. Among those killed was Benjamin Guggenheim, an heir to the Guggenheim mining and smelting empire.
Palmer’s ship will have the same dimensions as the original Titanic, with 840 rooms on nine decks as well as gymnasiums, swimming pools, libraries and restaurants, he said.
A historical research team had started design work on the ship, which would also include an exhibition room in place of the original’s coal boilers to “showcase Queensland and its abundance of opportunities,” he said in the statement.
A person on duty at the managing director’s office of CSC Jinling said by phone that while he wasn’t aware of the deal, it may have been signed by the company’s marketing and sales department. Today is a public holiday in China.
Blue Star Line was registered on April 18 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Palmer’s Mineralogy Pty., according to its only document filed with Australia’s securities regulator. Palmer and Derek Payne, manager of his Cold Mountain horse stud, are the only officers listed in the three-page filing.
The mining magnate has a fortune of A$5.05 billion ($5.3 billion) and is Australia’s fifth-richest person, according to BRW magazine rankings. He is developing coal and iron-ore mines in Australia, including the $8 billion China First coal project in Queensland state. Last year, he dropped plans to sell shares in his company Resourcehouse Ltd. in Hong Kong after commodity prices fell.
Palmer said Chinese companies want to break into cruise- ship building. European companies, led by Italy’s Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA, Norway’s STX Europe AS and Germany’s Meyer Werft GmbH, dominate the global cruise ship- building market, according to a 2010 presentation by Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. last November completed two ships for Carnival Corp.
“The Chinese ship-building industry with our assistance wants to be a major player in this market,” he said.
Separately today, Palmer announced he planned to challenge Australia’s Treasurer Wayne Swan in the seat of Lilley in Queensland state at a federal election due next year.
He attracted controversy in March after he was quoted in local media saying that groups opposed to Australia’s coal industry, including the Australian Greens party and environmental lobby Greenpeace, were “funded by the CIA.”