Titanic II 'will stop in Cobh' in 2016

Nick Bramhill

A planned replica of the Titanic will stop off in Cobh before sailing to New York - just as the original liner did on its doomed maiden voyage over 100 years ago.

Australian tycoon Clive Palmer, who is behind the project to build 'Titanic II', has indicated the vessel will be completed by Chinese shipbuilders in just over three years.

He said that as soon as 2016 the new ship will follow the same route as the Titanic did in April 1912, when the vessel set sail from Southampton before docking in the Co. Cork port, known as Queenstown at the time, to pick up 123 Irish passengers.

The ambitious construction project will see the luxury ship built to the same dimensions as the original, with space for 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members.

But Li Wenbao, spokesperson for CSC Jingling Shipyard - the Chinese state-owned company in Nanjing which Mr. Palmer has commissioned to build the replica liner - vowed that increased safety technology will ensure the new ship avoids the catastrophe that befell the original vessel.

He told The Chinese Daily newspaper:  "The liner will be equipped with advanced technologies, including the latest life-saving and communications systems to meet the requirements of modern navigation."

News that Titanic II is likely to stop off in the Cobh in three years' time will be greeted by tourist leaders in the Co. Cork port, who know that big-spending passengers are likely toprovide a huge economic boost to area.

According to other reports, Blue Star Line, the company managing the project, has already received tens of thousands of inquiries, including several from super-rich Americans offering to pay more than $1million each - about €760,000 - to be on the vessel's maiden voyage.

Shipping experts believe Mr. Palmer, 58, will have to splash out more than €150million to build 'Titanic II'. But the extravagant entrepreneur, who is understood to own 150 racehorses, five corporate jets and over 100 vintage cars, recently said:  "At my age, you don't really worry that much about whether you make money or lose money on something. But I'm pretty convinced that it will be a financial bonanza."

Constructed in Belfast, the 'unsinkable' Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic ocean on April 15, 2012, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

Poignant commemorations were held in Ireland last year, most notably in Cobh, to mark the centenary of the tragedy.

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