Plans to build replica Titanic all at sea as Oz tycoon Clive Palmer gets cold feet
Launch date passes while work ceased over year ago
An audacious plan to build a full-size, seaworthy replica of the Titanic has run aground.
Ironically, today was the original date proposed for the launch of Australian tycoon Clive Palmer's Titanic II which, like its ill-fated, Belfast-built predecessor, was to be one of the most luxurious vessels ever built.
But now - three years after the ambitious project was announced at a glamorous ceremony in New York - it has emerged that construction on Titanic II has not even started.
Not only that, but Finnish company Deltamarine - which had been designing the ship using the original Harland & Wolff drawings as their guide - has revealed that they ceased work on the project 18 months ago.
And the CSC Jinling Shipyard in China, which was meant to be building the $400m (£278m) floating palace, are now bouncing all requests for comment back to Mr Palmer's company, Blue Star Line.
Indeed, one of the shipyard's workers told The Australian newspaper that Titanic II was "a rumour, not a ship".
Last September, a spokesperson for Brisbane-based Blue Star Line said the project was not dead, merely delayed.
They added that although the ship would not be launched in 2016, it would set sail two years later, with its first port of call after leaving China being Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
Mining magnate-turned-politician Mr Palmer's dream was to have a ship that would mirror the famous liner that sank on its maiden voyage in 1912 with the loss of more than 1,500 lives. The new vessel was to have 840 cabins and carry 2,235 passengers and 900 crew.
It would of course have met modern safety and design requirements, meaning it would have a welded hull instead of a riveted one, modern-day evacuation systems, and enough lifeboats for everyone on board - unlike the original which went down after striking an iceberg in the north Atlantic.
It would also have a diesel-electric propulsion system instead of steam engines, stabilisers, high-tech navigational equipment and a helipad.
In February, Blue Star released pictures of how the interior would look, with a faithful reproduction of the ship's staircase, Cafe Parisien and Marconi room, plus Turkish baths, an Edwardian gym and first class smoking room. But although Mr Palmer spent millions on marketing his childhood dream project, including a lavish project launch on USS Intrepid in New York, documents just published by the administrators of a former Palmer company, Queensland Nickel, show that little or no money has been put into the development of Titanic II for over two years.
Indeed, the only funds directed towards the project were for offsite storage and IT-related expenses. Last week, Mr Palmer said at a press conference he would have to ask his wife if he could pursue the project in retirement - a statement that suggested he was well aware Titanic II was now a mere pipe dream.
A £110m, life-sized, non-seaworthy, Titanic replica is currently under construction in China.