Palmer: Forget The Dinners, Breakfast Instead

Clive Palmer decided recently not to hold Titanic dinners out of respect for Hurricane Sandy victims. It will be breakfast, instead, in Halifax on 7 Dec 2012. Here is the blurb from the Chronicle Herald about it:

Clive Palmer, the outrageous Australian billionaire who is building a 21st-century version of the Titanic, is bringing his international road show to Halifax. Word of the visit Thursday from Palmer’s public relations firm in Australia is the first hint a Nova Scotia stop will be on the itinerary when the huge ship goes into service. “To honour the history of Titanic and recognize Halifax’s very special relationship and role with the grand ship, a Titanic Breakfast will be held at the Lord Nelson Hotel,” said a news release. The Halifax breakfast event is scheduled for Dec. 7. Palmer is to provide details of the Titanic II project afterwards. The release notes Palmer will host a series of Titanic culinary breakfasts and dinners around the world during November and December to promote the project.

I guess the victims of Hurricane Sandy no longer matter. Instead of big dinners it is now big breakfasts, presumably Edwardian style.

Source:The Chronicle Herald,Billionaire Building Titanic II Heads To Halifax For Breakfast PR Event,9 Nov 2012

Titanic II Gala Events Postponed Due To Hurricane Sandy

Five gala dinners to celebrate plans for Titanic II next month have been postponed. The dinners were scheduled to be in London, New York, Boston, Halifax and Southampton. A spokesman said they were postponed out of respect for families who lost loved ones to Hurricane Sandy., Palmer’s Titanic II Plans Hit A Snag,8 Nov 2012

Belfast Hotels Have Best Year Ever Thanks To “Titanic Effect”

The people running the Titanic Quarter are in the red but the Belfast hotels did quite well thanks to Titanic. According to Belfast Telegraph, the recently released PriceWaterhouseCoopers report noted the highest jump in occupancy rates since 2006.

Occupancy for April – the month of the centenary of Titanic’s sinking – was up 25% in the city’s top 38 hotels, and overall revenue and revenue per available room was 45% ahead of the year before. Stephen Curragh, PwC partner and hospitality expert, said: “While last year’s MTV Music Awards accounted for around 8,000 room nights, with the event delivering delivering an estimated £22m to the Belfast economy, it was March and the launch of the Titanic Belfast Festival that really saw a substantial jump in Belfast hotel occupancy and revenues.

Source: Belfast Telegraph,City Hotels Experience Titanic Rise In Rates Of Occupancy, 5 Nov 2012

Titanic Quarter Property Company In £20m Loss

The BBC is reporting the property company developing Titanic Quarter in Belfast lost £20m. The loss is attributed to a one-off payment of £13m to the charitable trust that owns the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction. Administrative fees also rose to £19 million from £7 million. A write-down in investment properties makes the total loss after taxes £22 million.

In a word, ouch.

Needless to say, they are trying to restructure and negotiating with Ulster Bank over £75m in loans.

Source: BBC, Titanic Quarter Property Company In £20m Loss, 5 Nov 2012

Grand Rapids Museum Unveils Great Lakes Shipwrecks Exhibit;Titanic Exhibit In February 2013

The Great Lakes has seen scores of shipwrecks lost to nature, poor seamanship, bad designs, and just plain bad luck. A new exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum shows how 13 ships all met their end and why. The exhibit opens 10 Nov and includes information about the SS Milwaukee, Carl D. Bradley and the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition will open in February 2013.

The exhibit is free with general admission. For information on hours, tickets and other information, go to


The Clarke Papers-More Grist For Conspiracy Theories

Ever so often there is a new Titanic controversy to stir things up. There have been a lot of them over the years from brittle steel to allegations the salvagers damaged Titanic. One fact about Titanic has never been in doubt–there were not enough lifeboats. The reason was (then) regulations that determined the number not on passenger capacity but on ship size. Government set those rules for the shipbuilders to follow and the British enquiry absolved it of responsibility. Titanic met all the legal requirements (and a bit more). And it was still inadequate for the catastrophe that occurred that cold night in April 1912.

Recent documents up for auction add more fuel to the lifeboat controversy.  Captain Maurice Clarke, a trade safety and emigration official with British Board of Trade, was assigned the task of inspecting Titanic as Safety Officer. He inspected the ship prior to its maiden voyage. He wrote Titanic did not have enough lifeboats but noted “….it was not possible to double the number of lifeboats from 20 to 40 to cover ‘all hands’ due to cost and extra manning.” He did think increasing the lifeboat number by fifty percent was advisable. His notes cover inspections on Thursday 4th, Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th April. And they detail lifeboat drills, tests and inventory checks along with the sad fact Titanic only had six life buoys. His advice for more lifeboats was ignored by White Star (they did the same, it ought to be noted, when Harland & Wolfe also suggested more lifeboats). White Star, he believes, put pressure on Board of Trade to prevent anything done on this matter.

Clarke testified at the British enquiry on 17 June 1912 and said nothing about this on the official record. Henry Aldrige, who is auctioning off these notes and no doubt wants to increase their value states:

“These documents effectively rewrite an important element of the Titanic story proving that even after 100 years, new facts are coming to light about the sinking.”

It does raise certain questions as to why the issue was never brought up. However the simplest answer is circle the wagons mentality at play. No doubt the Board of Trade, under fire for poor lifeboat regulations, wanted nothing of this to come out. Government lawyers probably looked at it carefully concluding saying nothing was the better posture. Putting it on the record that Clarke had recommended more lifeboats means more questions asked of Board of Trade and possibly of White Star itself. Clarke was likely told to keep quiet unless specifically asked. And he was likely told he would be fired if he said anything or anything got out to the press about his recommendation. Also the lawyers pointed out Titanic met all regulations when it launched. If White Star did not want more lifeboats, that was their problem and not the Board of Trade’s.

The Clarke notes add some interesting information but Aldridge is off. It does not rewrite the story. The fact that White Star did not want more lifeboats is already well known. We also know Board of Trade regulations were inadequate and many ship owners also concurred with not putting more lifeboats on ships. Of course after Titanic they quickly did so. Did White Star pressure Board of Trade? The real question is whether they needed to. Was anyone other than Clarke raising concerns within this regulatory body? I rather doubt it but one would have to look at the internal records to see what was going on (assuming such records exist). It would be easy to run off and wave the notes as proof White Star controlled the Board of Trade. More likely a very cozy relationship at times between government and private sector. Which is why White Star did not have to lift a finger to stop Clarke. And no one from the Board of Trade was held accountable for those inadequate regulations.

I can guess, with great certainty, that in due course opinions and books will be written proving this or that conspiracy theory about Titanic’s sinking. Most of it will be gibberish based upon shreds of some truth to sell their point of view. Heck it might even generate a miniseries. However there is less here than it seems, so be very careful in hanging your hat on proving a White Star-Titanic-Board of Trade corruption case unless you plan to write fiction.

1. The Independent, Man Responsible For Making Titanic Seaworthy Had Request For 50% More Lifeboats Knocked Back, New Documents Reveal, 2 Nov 2012

2. The Telegraph, Titanic Safety Officer Warned Ship Needed ’50 Per Cent More Lifeboats’, 31 Oct 2012