Full steam ahead as Titanic II effort gets under way

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer says his version of the Titanic will keep the first, second and third-class divisions and include a "safety" deck.

Releasing the preliminary plans and drawings for the Titanic II, which is to be built in China, mining tycoon Palmer said the massive vessel would have nine decks.

"The preliminary general arrangement plans depict the original separation between first, second and third-class, which will be kept in the ship's final design," Palmer said.

"To ensure Titanic II is compliant with all current safety and construction regulations, a new 'safety deck' has been inserted between D and C decks and will feature proper lifeboats, safety chutes or slides as well as new common public rooms."

Palmer said the upper decks would retain the public rooms, passenger stairs, cabins and other features in similar locations as in the original ship which sank on April 15 1912 en route to New York after hitting an iceberg.

But the plans by Finnish-based ship design and engineering company Deltamarin also feature new escape stairs and service elevators, while one deck has been re-designed to provide crew accommodation, laundry and machinery.

The flamboyant billionaire said Titanic II's first voyage remained set for late 2016, with the boat due to sail from China to England ahead of her maiden passenger journey to North America. Interest was "overwhelming", he said.

'Strict restrictions' 
Palmer said the new ship would have a casino, but said there would be "strict restrictions" on who was allowed to gamble at it.

"There will be some sort of screening to make sure people who do go there can afford to," Australian Associated Press quoted him as saying.

There was scepticism when the self-made mining billionaire announced his ambitious plans in April to construct Titanic II with exactly the same dimensions as its ill-fated predecessor.

Though they were yet to be approved Palmer said the drawings underlined the commitment of his shipping company Blue Star Line to the project, and would allow Chinese shipbuilders CSC Jinling Shipyard to begin work.

The passenger liner, which will be close to 270 metres-long, will have an estimated gross tonnage of 65 000 tonnes.

The original Titanic, which was built in Belfast, sank on its first voyage from Southampton to New York, killing more than 1 500 passengers and crew. – Sapa-AFP

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