Friday, December 2, 2016


In the year 1912 of the early 20th Century, the revolutionary passenger liner RMS Titanic of the British White Star Line was on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic from Southampton to New York City. Built in the shipyards of Harland & Wolff in Belfast, Titanic was touted as a tough ship that could remain afloat no matter what sort of hull damage was inflicted on it: a “truly unsinkable” ship of the times. Of course, anybody who at the very least has watched James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster knows how bunk those claims turned out to be, as Titanic sank in just over two hours after hitting an iceberg south of Newfoundland. But the event pretty much crystallized the ship and the people aboard it as a powerful legend from the dawn of the modern age.

Apparently China, of all places, has felt the mystique of that legend nowadays; and rather strongly to boot. In fact, CNN reports that the government of Daying County in Sichuan province has provided partial funding to a project that seeks to build a 1:1 to scale replica of the famous doomed steamship, all 269 meters long and 28 meters wide of it. The funny thing is that the construction, while following shipbuilding methods, is being done in a landlocked dry dock over 1,200 kilometers from the sea. Work began on laying the keel just this week.

Su Shaojun, one of the principal financiers of the project, spoke to the state-run China Daily of the two years’ research and preparatory work undertaken by the team before any actual construction has even begun. "After the RMS Titanic sank, nobody saw its complete set of blueprints," he said."Many blueprint fragments found their way into the hands of collectors or remained missing. We spent many years collecting the blueprints from many parts of the world and managed to obtain most of them."

Upon completion, the replica Titanic will open as an international tourist attraction, accessible enough due to being 130 kilometers away from the Sichuan capital of Chengdu. Rather than being made to set sail, the ship will be in permanent dock in a special reservoir made for it in the Qijiang River.

Beyond simply rebuilding the ship, the developers also aim to replicate the interior design and furnishings of Titanic as it had most looked like on that fateful sea voyage in 1912.

The Chinese project has gotten quite a leg up on a similar undertaking by Australian millionaire Clive Palmer, who envisioned a fully steam-capable replica he called Titanic II, supposedly set to launch before the end of this year. Development difficulties have pushed it back by two years and construction has supposedly halted. The Daying Titanic meanwhile is set to cost the county government part of a total 1 billion Yuan, or $145 million production expenses.

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