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Titanic II maiden voyage in 2016

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3D model of Titanic II. Author: Blue Star Line 3D model of Titanic II. Author: Blue Star Line
Clive Palmer - Source: AP Clive Palmer - Source: AP

BUCKINGHAM, ENGLAND, UK (KNOE 8 News & AP) Some British relatives of Titanic victims are horrified at an Australian billionaire's plans to build a full-sized replica of the doomed liner, but enthusiasts hope it will keep the spirit of the Titanic and that period of history alive.

Mining magnate Clive Palmer is set to unveil the details of his plans for Titanic II in New York later on Tuesday (February 26). Its inaugural voyage is expected to follow the same route at the original Titanic, from Southampton in the United Kingdom, to Cobh in Ireland before heading across the Atlantic to Manhattan.

On April 15, 1912 the original ship hit an iceberg in the Atlantic and sank, killing 1,523 passengers and crew.

Ninety-one-year-old Pat Lacey is the great great niece of the ship's captain, Edward John Smith, who perished at sea. She is not keen on the Titanic II project. "I think it is utterly pointless and in rather poor taste really....If you have got that amount of money, it must be costing a bomb, you know in this day and age, why not do something useful with it?" she said. "I can image all the ghosts of people who went down on it, getting up and being cross about it. I certainly do. I don't understand the mentality of someone who wants to do it really," she said.

Lacey has written a biographical novel about her great great uncle's life, a figure who, 100 years after his death, continues to capture the public's imagination for his involvement in one of the worst maritime disasters of all time. She thinks Smith would be "absolutely horrified" by the plans to rebuild the liner.

On Palmer's Blue Star Line website, the Australian billionaire calls the Titanic II project the "Return of a legend", and says the liner will be an exact replica of the Titanic, but a few feet wider and, of course, carrying more lifeboats.

Titanic enthusiasts, sometimes called Titanoraks in the UK, are excited about the project. Titanic historian, Philip Littlejohn, whose grandfather was a first class steward on the doomed liner, is intrigued by the plans. His grandfather, Alexander James Littlejohn, turned white-haired overnight after surviving the disaster. "I think grandfather would have loved it," said Littlejohn about the Titanic II project. "I mean to think that people were still talking about the job that he did over 100 years later and that people were fascinated by the Titanic story," he said.

Littlejohn, who has written a book about the tragedy, went on a dive to the crash site to see for himself the ruins, which are decaying. "Titanic is deteriorating rapidly, so people aren't able to go down and see the original Titanic, maybe Titanic II can give them the opportunity to experience what it was like. So, provided it is done with respect, I am very much for it," he said

Last year, on the centenary of the disaster, two memorial cruise ships set off from Southampton and New York to the site of the sinking. Reportedly, potential passengers for the Titanic II's maiden voyage in 2016 have offered up to one million US dollars for a ticket.

 

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