Titanic II set to sail in 2018, says Aussie billionaire
Aussie billionaire confirms he will build full-size replica liner
A fully-functioning replica of the Titanic will be built after all.
It had been feared that Australian tycoon Clive Palmer's audacious plan for 'Titanic II' - which, like its ill-fated predecessor, would be built to sail the Atlantic Ocean - had run aground for good.
A spokesman for billionaire Palmer said the project had merely been delayed, and that the new ship would be launched in 2018 - two years later than initially planned.
Titanic II will look virtually identical to the original Belfast-built luxury liner which perished in April 1912 after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage.
It will, however, be four metres wider in order to meet modern maritime safety regulations, and the hull will be welded, not riveted.
"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 Palmer's company Blue Star Line.
When finished, the new vessel will be 270 metres long, 53 metres high and weigh 40,000 tonnes.
It will have nine floors and 840 cabins capable of accommodating 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members, along with Turkish baths, a swimming pool and gymnasiums.
It will also remain faithful to the classifications of the original ship with first, second and third-class tickets on offer.
Titanic II's maiden voyage will not be from Southampton to New York, but rather Jiangsu, China, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where Blue Star Line has been forging business partnerships.
"We are not looking for investment from Dubai, as it is a project we are funding ourselves, but we have been in contact with a number of companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising opportunities that arises with the project," Mr McDonald said.
"It is people looking to use the opportunity of the trademark and licensing potential of the project... We own the Titanic II name and trademark and people are lining up to be part of it."
Blue Star originally announced plans to build a replica of the Titanic in April 2012 - coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the sinking, which claimed more than 1,500 lives.
State-owned Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling has been contracted to build Titanic II.
While some relatives of passengers who died on the ship have condemned the move to build a replica as insensitive, Mr McDonald said the project had received a very favourable response.
Blue Star is reported to have been inundated with inquiries from potential passengers, with some offering up to £640,000 for a chance to be on the maiden voyage.