- - Wednesday, February 27, 2013

He’s not the “king of the world,” exactly, but Australian mining tycoon Clive Palmer is a very wealthy man with an extraordinary dream: building and operating his own version of the Titanic, the doomed luxury liner that went down in 1912.

Mr. Palmer unveiled plans for his historically accurate replica, “Titanic II,” on Saturday in China, where the ship will be built, and said the new Titanic is expected to recreate the iconic England-to-New York maiden voyage of the original sometime in 2016.

The new ship will be designed to replicate, as much as possible, the look and feel of the 1912 ship, with important exceptions being made for comfort (air conditioning), safety and modern shipbuilding practices.

Passengers will even be able to enjoy the cruise in historically accurate costumes, if they choose, with clothing provided in every cabin.

Estimated by Forbes to be worth $795 million in 2012, Mr. Palmer, 58, said he is building the boat, well, because he can.

“John Kennedy said in the ‘60s we chose to go to the moon because we can go there, we have individual choices to do that. I’ve got the money, so I can do it. I can build the Titanic. We’ve got the partners, and we guarantee to do it, because we want to go to the moon,” he said in an interview last year with the BBC.

Mr. Palmer’s new cruise company, the Blue Line Star, was founded last year on the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

He said the project was an effort to pay tribute to the craftsmen in the United Kingdom who built the original “Ship of Dreams.”

Last year, Mr. Palmer signed a deal with CSC Jinling to build the Titanic II and said he hopes the project will establish the Chinese company as a major player in the shipbuilding industry.

The original Titanic, commissioned by the White Star Line, was the largest liner of its time.

Titanic II will have 840 cabins and the same floor plans as the original — but there are important differences: the new ship will have a bulbous bow for fuel efficiency, its hull will be welded instead of riveted and engines will run on diesel rather than coal.

The distinctive smoke stacks of the original will be decorative additions on the new ship.

Perhaps most importantly, the new ship will have a 700-lifeboat capacity, more than enough to handle the maximum number of passengers and crew if the unthinkable happens.

The original 1912 ship, infamously called “unsinkable,” claimed 1,523 lives when it went down in one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history.

Given that history, some were surprised this week when the Finnish designer of the new boat said the Titanic II will be the “safest cruise ship in the world.”

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