Keeping Titanic II Alive

Newsroom of the New York Times,September 1942 Public Domain(U.S.Library of Congress, digital id#cph.3c12969)
Newsroom of the New York Times,September 1942
Public Domain(U.S.Library of Congress, digital id#cph.3c12969)

Sometimes newspapers that need to fill space look to an old story. Back on 1 Sep 2015 the Belfast Telegraph ran the following story:

Titanic II set to sail in 2018, says Aussie billionaire

The news report by Claire McNeilly indicated the new revised launch date was 2018 and that its maiden voyage had changed. Originally that was to be from Southampton to New York but now would be from China to Dubai. Blue Star Line said it was working with Dubai investors not to invest in the ship but in opportunities that will arise from Titanic II. Since that news report there has no news about the project. As far as anyone can tell, no contract to build has been signed and nor has any shipyard begun construction.

So imagine my surprise when going through the various Titanic related news stories to find this one from The Independent:

Titanic II: Fully functioning replica of original ship to set sail in 2018(Independent,9 Feb 2016)

Except for the name of the writer, Matt Payton, the article is virtually identical to Belfast Telegraph one in September 2015, which is linked to in the story. One might think though this was a new story when in fact this is stale news. At least it filled up an empty space in the newspaper. And Blue Star is no doubt happy with the free publicity. People in the cruise ship trade though are doubtful it will ever be built. And it is matched by the quietness of the shipping yard in China where it is supposed to be built.

Titanic Tidbits For Superbowl Sunday

©National Football League
©National Football League

It is Superbowl Sunday here in the United States. It has become a mini-holiday of sorts. For football fans, it is the ultimate game between two rivals. Whether you go to the game or watch it at home, it means cheering on your favorite team (if you have one). And it has become a major food day as well. There are many foods to celebrate the game from nachos to pizza. Pizza is the number one food according to both surveys and sales. All the major national pizza chains look to Superbowl Sunday as the biggest pizza day of the year. It is also the Chinese Lunar New Year so at my house this year, the game will have delicious Chinese food from a local restaurant.

Now to Titanic….

*Not that anyone really cares (or do they?)but the entertainment media has been aflutter with Kate Winslet saying that Jack did not need to die. If they do a remake, perhaps he will live that time or perhaps both will die. Or resurrected as flesh eating ghouls for the cinematic horror Zombies From The Cold Sea!

*A cardboard boat race to teach the lessons of buoyancy ended with the  famously named Titanic suffering a similar watery fate. Duck tape and cardboard are a tough challenge to be waterproof though Mythbusters proved the viability of a duck tape boat.

*A political candidate recently spoofed Titanic on Saturday Night Live. Once again Titanic being used as a political prop.

*A Spanish broadcaster apparently confused British Prime Minister David Cameron with famous movie producer James Cameron. Oops! Next time try doing an Internet search first.

Happy Sunday everyone.


SS United States May Sail Again

SS United States at sea, 1950s. Photo: Public Domain (John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)
SS United States at sea, 1950s.
Photo: Public Domain (John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)

The SS United States, once a majestic ocean liner larger than Titanic and decaying away in Philadelphia for two decades, might have a new lease on life. Crystal Cruises, a luxury travel company, has announced plans to overhaul the ship providing it passes a nine month feasibility study. The estimated cost of the overhaul is $700 million. The gutted and rusty ship is owned by a conservation group, SS United States Conservancy, that made the deal with Crystal Cruises.

The ship was launched in 1951 and constructed entirely in the United States. It was the fastest ocean liner of her day and won the Blue Riband for its crossing speed. It remained in service till 1969 when transatlantic ocean travel had dwindled. After that it fell into different hands. Its fittings and furniture were auctioned off and many plans advanced for its use never materialized. The SS United States Conservancy bought the ship in 2011 hoping to restore it for use in a waterfront exhibition. However the costs associated with that along with ongoing docking fees made this difficult and plans were made to scrap the ship if funding was not found. The contract with Crystal Cruises requires them to pay the docking fees for nine months during the feasibility study.

Source: Historic Ship Larger Than Titanic Could Sail Again(4NewYork,5 Feb 2016)

A Forgotten Maritime Tragedy: MV Wilhelm Gustloff (30 Jan 1945)

Wilhelm Gustloff in Danzig, September 1939. Photo: German Federal Archives (Bild 183-H27992 )
Wilhelm Gustloff in Danzig, September 1939.
Photo: German Federal Archives (Bild 183-H27992 )

The German military transport ship Wilhelm Gustloff carrying German civilians with their families along with Nazi government and military personnel, was sunk by a Soviet submarine on 30 Jan 1945 after it had departed Gotenhafen (Gdynia) in the Baltic Sea. The loss of life is estimated to be around 9,400, the largest loss of life to date in a maritime tragedy.

Originally designed as a cruise ship for the Nazi Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude) organization, it was requisitioned by the German navy (Kriegsmarine) in 1939. She served as a hospital ship from 1939-1940. She then served as a floating barracks before pulled into use as an evacuation vessel due to the Red Army advances in Poland. The ship early on was being escorted two torpedo boats and another liner, the Hansa. Mechanical problems beset that liner and one of the torpedo boats so they did not continue the journey. Though fitted out with anti-aircraft guns, they were inoperable due to freezing conditions. The accompanying torpedo boat was not much help either as its submarine sensor had frozen over.

The Gustloff’s captain, Friedrich Petersen was advised to stick to shallow water and run without lights on but opted to head into deeper water. A mysterious message–possibly sent by either Soviet agents or the Soviet submarine–said a German minesweeper convoy was nearby so Peterson turned on the navigation lights making the ship visible in the night. It was spotted by Soviet submarine S-13 commanded by Captain Alexander Marinesko who fired torpedoes that sank the Gustloff. The initial deaths were from the torpedoes themselves and later from the extremely cold sea (estimated to be between 0-14F) that had ice floes on it. In less than forty minutes, the ship was lying on its side and sank bow-first in 144 feet of water. German forces rescued 1,252.

The German Navy did convene a board of inquiry and Lieutenant Commander Wilhelm Zahn, the commander of the U-Boat unit and a well regarded submariner, was asked to justify his actions. He blamed both Croatian crew members and the ship captain for what happened. However the war ended before any formal resolution of the matter occurred. The Soviet submariner captain Marinesko though fared worse. He was already facing a court martial for his excessive drinking and not considered a suitable person to be a hero and got the lessor award Order of the Red Banner. He was demoted and dishonorably discharged in October 1945 though he was considered an excellent submariner and commander. Stalin’s death and other things led to re-evaluations of many officers denied awards and promotions got him reinstated as a captain third class (a rank that equals a major in the Soviet army) and a full pension. In 1963 just three weeks prior to his death he was given the traditional ceremony due to a captain upon a successful return from a mission. He was awarded posthumously Hero of the Soviet Union in 1990 by Mikhail Gorbachev.

The wreck lies in Polish waters and is classified as war grave. To prevent scavengers and treasure hunters diving to it, it is forbidden to dive within 1,600 feet of the wreck radius.

The question many ask is why this has gotten so little notice. The simple and most compelling answers are that it took place during World War II and the casualties were  Germans fleeing home to escape being captured by the Russians. There is not a lot of sympathy for Germans after the war and especially when the horrors of the holocaust were revealed. So despite the large loss of life, the sinking has become a footnote and sometimes not even referenced at all.

Raising The Titanic For Charity

Titanic Wreck Bow Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)
Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

Raising the Titanic from its watery grave is not possible but Pete Williams of Burnley, UK has found a way to do it–with weights. When not doing his day job as a detective with Greater Manchester Police, he works out three or four days a weeks at a local gym and also a martial arts center. His goal is to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and possibly set a world record that Guinness will take note of.

Williams and volunteers will attempt to lift Titanic’s weight of 52,000 tons (5.2 million kilograms) for a world record starting on Saturday 16 April. Williams is getting support from friends, a supplement company and hopes to get other sponsors as well. His reason for raising money for Macmillan is the support they gave for his father who was treated there for throat cancer. So far 100 people have signed up for the chance to dead lift a choice of weights for ten times before resting allowing for three people lifting at the same time.

It ought to be fun learning how this turns out.

Source: Fitness Fan Dad Aims To ‘Raise The Titanic’ For Charity (Pendle Today,23 Jan 2016)

Friday Titanic News

This has been a quiet week for Titanic, so not a lot of news to report. Here are some interesting bits of news for you to consider.

1. You never know what lies waiting to be uncovered when cleaning out your home. Especially if you have not looked in those dust covered corners in closed up rooms, attics, or basements for a long time. A man found the portrait of Elsie Bowerman, a Titanic survivor, suffragette, and barrister. And it is now up for auction at Duke’s Auctioneers in Dorchester, Dorset, UK in March with an estimated price of £1,000.
Source: Titanic Survivor’s Portrait Discovered (BBC News,22 Jan 2016)

Information about Elsie Bowerman:
1. Miss Elsie Edith Bowerman (Encyclopedia Titanica)
2. ‘Suffragette, Barrister and Survivor of the Titanic disaster’ born in Tunbridge Wells (somagazines.co.uk, 12 April 2012)

2. The Titanic Hotel at Stanley Dock in Liverpool has won the Luxury Travel Global Guide Award of Luxury Hotel of the Year. The editor of Luxury Travel Magazine is quoted as saying they “were blown away by Titanic Hotel Liverpool’s profile.”
Source: Titanic Hotel wins at Luxury Travel Awards (BDaily,22 Jan 2016)

Finally to close out this Friday, I offer something for my friends facing a very snowy weekend back east and all those also having very cold temperatures.

Another Lego Titanic Triumph

Lego is getting used a lot these days to build Titanic. One kid built a complete replica using Lego bricks. But no one has attempted doing a Lego representation of Titanic sinking. Till now. Take a look at the photos here and you will be astonished. It really took some real creativity to pull this off. It is far easier to build a replica than to simulate the sinking.

Source:Incredible LEGO model of the Titanic breaking in half(brothers-brick.com,18 Jan 2016)

Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.

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