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Life-Sized Titanic Replica Under Construction

Friday, January 12, 2018

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Billionaire Australian businessman Clive Palmer has his sights set on making the Titanic sail across the seas of the imagination once again, by building a full-scale $600 million replica that features an updated design.

Su Shaojun, the developer overseeing the project known as Romandisea Titanic, was inspired by the movie of the same name, and while an impressive skeleton has been built, funding remains an issue.

Setting Sail

According to NPR, Shaojun is president of Seven Star Energy Investment Group in Lishui, Zhejiang Province, located in southeastern China. The replica is being built in the Sichuan countryside.

Shaojun’s goal? To build a theme park with cultural depth.

When Titanic was released in 1997, China’s economy was moving from a period of dormancy to economic opportunity and growth, which explains in part why Shaojun was so inspired by the film.

On the other hand, Palmer’s Blue Star Line is building the replica, and has made sure to include enough lifeboats for all passengers in the updated design.

“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,” James McDonald, marketing director for the Blue Star Line, told the Belfast Telegraph.

The hull will also be welded, not riveted like that of the original vessel.

Palmer also intends to keep the Titanic’s class system in place, with separate dining rooms for second- and third-class passengers. First-class passengers will largely remain separate from second and third on board.

According to The Citizen, passengers will also receive period clothing to enhance the experience.

Park Construction and Challenges

Construction began in 2014, and a promotional video promised completion by the end of August 2017, but that timeline has since been updated for a completion date for 2018.

In the process, Shaojun secured a $200 million loan from Zheshang commercial bank and brokered a property deal with local government.

Despite setbacks, Shaojun remains confident in the project’s success, citing common knowledge of the Titanic and nearby population density.

Peking University economist Christopher Balding expressed his disagreement to NPR, however, noting that many small Chinese cities had championed similar projects, but not many of them pan out in the end. Big and bombastic gestures such as these seem to be a way to demonstrate results for local government, but, noted Balding, the more China sinks into debt, the less this line of thinking turns into a winning formula.

Shaojun’s initial plans also included a “hitting the iceberg” experience, but that was nixed after feedback was given by the descendants of disaster survivors. The developer may keep something in that line on the table, but reorient it toward showing “that people should let women and children go first when facing a disaster."

Despite all of these plans, what remains is that the replica is years behind schedule.

The 1,000-foot hull has been constructed, but two-thirds of the ship remains unfinished. Paired with the sharp increase in the cost of commodities, which includes steel; a lack of money to pay worker salaries; and employees quitting, the project seems to be almost at a standstill.

If the project is ever completed, the 1,000-resident village of Jinwan will be flooded for both a reservoir and the replica itself.  

The vessel’s maiden voyage is slated to follow a route from Jiangsu, China, to Dubai.


Tagged categories: Historic Structures; Project Management; Ships and vessels

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