Cruise Ship News notes that by this date things were supposed to be in motion. Excitement had been generated that a second Titanic would be built. Money had been spent on testing models and contracts with various vendors to the outfitting of the ship were done. You had Clive Palmer doing Titanic themed meals around the world with the rich and famous. Ah but now it is all quiet on the Titanic 2 construction. No keel has been laid, no contract has been signed to formally build the ship. Clive Palmer has had a falling out with his Chinese partners and in litigation with Citic Pacific.
The most optimistic appraisal is that things are stalled but realists will say the chances of this ship being built went from probable, down to maybe, and now unlikely. Maybe Palmer ought to contact Premier Exhibitions about buying the Titanic artifact collection, which is still up for sale and no bidders at this time. At least that will not require a Chinese company to build a ship for you.
Clive Palmer took the airwaves recently saying unkind things about the Chinese. He called the Chinese government “bastards” setting off a firestorm of criticism for his tirade. His remarks were condemned by the Australian prime minister and of course the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He sent a written letter of apology to Chinese ambassador in which he states:
“I regret any hurt or anguish such comments may have caused any party and I look forward to greater understanding for peace and cooperation in the future.”
He explained later that his comments were directed at a Chinese company, CITIC Pacific, which he is locked in a legal fight concerning cost overruns and royalties involving the Sino Iron project in Western Australia. That project is a major investment for the Chinese company which until recently was state owned (CITIC Group was acquired by Hong Kong based CITIC Pacific and will begin publicly trading under that name). As such the former state owned company will be subject to stricter rules and disclosure requirements. But many in the financial community are not sure, despite this change, it will really result in major changes. Foreign directors may or may not be involved and the CITIC chairman has said that they are not necessary.
Palmer also said of CITIC in the Sino Iron project in western Australia that it was a “small horse pulling a big cart.” That cart is bigger now. It may be officially and legally a Hong Kong corporation but no one believes it is independent of government control. Beijing calls the shots behind the scenes and Palmer knows that. And even if he had just said it about CITIC, they would still be upset that he attacked a Chinese company. At any rate, it just makes building of Titanic II even more remote unless, as I noted before, he goes to Beijing and performs the kowtow.
[Correction 21 July 2014-In my haste in writing this up I noted “it seems they let people continue to believe might be launched this year all the while covering themselves in this release.” Of course it will not be launched this year but what has been put off is the date the keel will be laid. It was supposed to be done early this year, then switched to Fall 2014. However no formal contract has been signed or reported as signed with the Chinese company that will build Titanic II. So that date is subject to change.]
Governments often try to avoid public notice of something that will cause a stir by burying it inside a large document or give a brief mention of it seemingly as a routine matter in some filing. Blue Star Line has tried this approach, according to the Australian newspaper Courier Mail, by briefly mentioning in the last paragraph of a release that was issued way back in May. The press release is from 9 May 2014 and its subject line is “BLUE STAR LINE SIGNS TITANIC II MOU WITH AVIC AND DELTAMARIN”
Nearly the entire release is about how this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will enhance Blue Star’s ability to get sponsors to help finance Titanic II. Sounds pretty boiler plate until you get to the very last line:
Titanic II is scheduled to be launched from its construction base in China in 2018, before her maiden passenger voyage retracing its original journey from Southampton to New York.
I have to admit being duped on this. I did not read the full release as close as I ought to have. I did a write up on the MOU but did not notice that little line at the end. And nor did anyone else but, if I recall correctly, Blue Star did not point people to it either. Instead it seems they let people continue to believe might be launched this year all the while covering themselves in this release.
Of course it might be moot if the dispute between Palmer and the Chinese government remains unresolved.
Cruise Ship News is reporting that while Palmer has gotten a lot of preliminary things done, progress on ship construction has been stalled. The keel was supposed to be laid in March 2014 but now has been pushed to September. The ship is still planned to be completed in 2016, but another problem has emerged namely that Palmer is not in good standing with the leaders in Beijing. According to the Courier Mail,Palmer’s search for Chinese sponsors is now nearly impossible. The Chinese owned company CITIC Pacific has accused Palmer’s company Mineralogy “of siphoning $12m from it to help fund the 2013 Palmer United Party election campaign.” In short, Palmer took money from the Chinese government. The Chinese government has not filed a formal complaint but Palmer, through his spokesman, denies the allegations.
However it means should he land on Chinese soil, they might detain him. Which means making it very problematic to build Titanic II in China if the government believes you stole money from them. Palmer is also involved in litigation against CITIC over royalties he claims owed to him. Add it up and one can not see a favorable climate in China for this ship being built there at this time. If he wants their money to invest in energy projects and Titanic II, he will have to practice the kowtow before that will occur.
Titanic II construction has been set back by 2 years. Titanic II will now launch in 2018. Steel cutting has yet to start, part of the reason for delay. Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has signed Memorandum of Understanding with Blue Star Line to promote ship together and help get sponsors in China.
Not mentioned or reported is whether any formal contract has been signed yet with the Chinese shipyard that will build Titanic II. Many are still skeptical about that coming to pass.
1. As reported earlier, a Chinese energy company has announced construction of a full scale Titanic replica. This replica will be permanently docked on the Qi River and will simulate Titanic’s sinking. It is due for completion in 2016, the year that Clive Palmer also plans to have his Titanic replica ready to go. Wuchang Shipbuilding has been contracted to build the Titanic replica but so far Clive Palmer has not signed any formal construction with CSC Jinling. And News.Com.Au reports that industry experts doubt Clive Palmer’s Titanic will ever be built. Maritime historian and cruise critic Reuben Groossens states:
“The shipping world in general all doubts that this will work,” said Mr Groossens. Every corner of the industry I’ve spoken to — the US, UK, France — they all thought exactly the same. People are not that keen at riding in third class, in original conditions as they were. And he’s doing the third class cabins identical to what they were — horrible. He thinks they (passengers) will want to have the experience of the poor folk and will pay huge money. It won’t work on a long-term basis … because there aren’t the passengers.”
As surprising as it sounds, it is likely the Chinese full scale replica will likely be built first. They put up the money, contracts have been signed. And what has Palmer done? Well we have had lots of media buzz, celebrity events, and then it got very quiet. Yes there have been positive signs with lots of preliminary work being undertaken with outfitters, proof of concept trials etc. Yet and most importantly no contract to actually build the ship has been done. Palmer might be having problems negotiating with the Chinese shipyard and some reports indicate reticence on their part in building such a ship. Or it might be it will be built elsewhere. Then again he might have realized that making money off this ship will be more difficult than first thought.
The novelty of going on Titanic II will appeal to a lot of people,but what is his market? Titanic enthusiasts would certainly be interested but it may be too expensive for a lot of them. And who really, except for perhaps a night, wants to experience how third class/steerage were crammed together having to share toilets? My gut reaction was the market he was targeting is wealthy Asians and Arabs (like in Brunei). How else does one explain why they are building a Titanic themed resort in Tinian? Perhaps Palmer misread the Chinese thinking they would be interested. Perhaps they are but many who have done business in China have run into roadblocks with bureaucracy and with the leaders in Beijing.
Hartley New Year Card Sought By Museum
2. Nigel Hampson, curator of the Lancashire Titanic Museum, is trying to raise £5,000 by August to purchase a Happy New Year card signed by Wallace Hartley. The card is already on loan to the museum right now and its owner has indicated he intends to put it up for auction but the museum has first refusal rights on it. Hampson says at auction he could fetch a lot more than £5,000 but that owner wants to keep the card local. Hampson is hoping to find a business willing to sponsor or perhaps a group to fundraise to keep it on public display. The card is currently on display until August.
Source:Titanic Museum In Bid To Buy Card Signed By Colne Bandleader Wallace Hartley(5 May 2014,Lancashire Telegraph)
3. Insurance News Made As Original Titanic Policy Sells For $25,000 Atlantic Mutual was not the only insurer that was helping to cover the risk associated with the Titanic. The remainder was split among an insurance company syndicate which was led by the London based Prudential Insurance Company. On the page that was just sold in New York, there was an addendum written by hand that pointed out that the policy was “to include the trip from Belfast to Southampton sailing on or after March 30th 1912…and the risk of trials on said trip, if any.” The insurance news making document holds a signature, as well as the date of March 27, 1912.
Source:Insurance News Made As Original Titanic Policy Sells For $25,000(6 May 2014,LIN News)
3. Shipwreck Yields Bonanza of Gold Bars & Coins Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., a company that specializes in deep-ocean exploration, retrieved five gold bars and two gold coins — one from 1850 that was minted in Philadelphia, and the other from 1857 that was minted in San Francisco — from the sunken ship known as the SS Central America. The precious artifacts were recovered during a reconnaissance dive to the shipwreck site on April 15. Odyssey Marine Exploration researchers are in the process of documenting the underwater site, and they eventually plan to conduct a full archaeological excavation of the shipwreck, according to company officials.
Source:Shipwreck Yields Bonanza of Gold Bars & Coins(6 May 2014,Discovery News (from Livescience)
Clive Palmer is disputing claims Titanic II is stalled according to Sunshine Coast Daily. It has been recently reported that construction was stalled, no contract had been signed, and the Chinese were not as enthusiastic as Palmer had hoped. The attacks, Palmer now says, are politically motivated. He points out they just finished tank testing and that they have signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese group. Palmer points out that it took seven years to design Titanic and that they are ordering stuff for the ship. He also said the keel will be laid in the third quarter this year.
However Palmer is no longer committed to an exact date for the first voyage, which initially was to be in 2016.
If online polls are to be believed, most do not believe it will be built. Vegas odds makers are not taking bets at this time on Titanic II construction.
The Australian is reporting that nothing has been done in the construction of Titanic II. Shipbuilding was supposed to have started by now. The newspaper reports that no deal has been signed with CSC Jinling, the Chinese shipyard despite Clive Palmer claiming the deal was “imminent.” No steel has been cut in preparation for its construction. The newspaper further reports the Chinese are not interested in building the ship. Considering how big Titanic is in China, that seems odd indeed. Palmer apparently thought the Chinese would be excited about the project but apparently that has not been the case. It could be that they do want to build Titanic II but would rather do it themselves rather than with Clive Palmer.
The marketing director is quoted as saying the keel will be laid “in the third quarter of this year.” Officially the Chinese company says while it would be difficult to build, they could do it. Palmer might have to consider another shipyard that would be more enthusiastic than the Chinese one. If I were making odds on this ship being constructed, I would bet against it at this time. Palmer really whipped up a lot of excitement but without a signed contract that starts construction, it looks like the skeptics were right, that this was just a publicity stunt. And he has wasted a lot of time and effort because of it.
More possible evidence that Clive Palmer is not doing a Titanic publicity stunt. The Daily Mail reports that Wrexham Lager, which was served aboard Titanic, will also supply Titanic II if approved by Blue Star Line. According to brewery director Mark Roberts:
“We got to hear about the plan and the fact they were looking to use original suppliers if possible. They have signed up the original brandy and champagne houses and we thought it was only right they should have the original lager suppliers too.”
Now to be clear it is not quite official. The brewery has sent samples to Blue Star and got a positive reaction writes Daily Mail. So the next step is the legal one where documents are signed to license the beer as the official beer of Titanic II.
Wrexham Lager produced a range of lagers under different labels. The Munich style lager was apparently the one used on Titanic. According to Titanic lunch menus that survived, they were served “iced draught Munich lager beer.” Wrexham Lager went out of business in 200o but was relaunched in 2011 by Mark Roberts. Industrialist Robert Graesser bought the majority share in 1886 and secured major contracts with Great Western Railway and British Army. He apparently traveled on a White Star liner to America and took a keg of beer to market it. Apparently it became popular in this country and shipping lines like White Star decided to stock it.
1. The New York Post reports that Noelle Hollander, daughter of late nautical expert Frank Braynard, has filed suit against two antiques dealers accusing them of stealing her father’s trove of ship memorabilia which includes Titanic memorabilia. The suit alleges Kerry McCaffrey and Richard Faber looted the memorabilia during a visit when her father was suffering from dementia. Also alleged is that he sold them a valuable painting at a bargain basement price which a gallery is now selling for $125,000. Hollander claims her father was unaware what the antiques dealers were doing because of his illness. Both dealers deny any wrong doing.
Source: Titanic Items Swiped From Seaport Museum Founder: Suit(25 Mar 2014,New York Post)
2. Cruise Ship News hopes that everything is going well and that the keel for Titanic II will be 31 March. That has symbolism since the original Titanic keel was laid on the same date in 1909. Of course there are nagging reports of problems between Clive Palmer and the Chinese shipyard. And some believe the whole thing is a publicity stunt.
Source: Titanic 2 Keel Expected To Be Laid March 31(25 Mar 2014,Cruise Ship News)
3. In the category of what will they make Titanic out of next comes this story. Five students with a charity called Butterfly Project decided to recycle old VHS tapes in a novel way. So they obtained 1,000 old VHS tapes, disassembled them, and used the materials to construct a 12 foot replica of the famous ship. Sadly no picture accompanies the story, which is a bummer since it would be something worth seeing. Hard to remember but VHS tapes were state of the art tech for viewing movies not so long ago. At least the typewriter still has a use when power goes out and you need to get a letter out the door.
Source: What Do You Do With 1000 VHS Video Cassettes – Make A Titanic Model Of Course(25 Mar 2014 ,Gloucester Citizen)