The hits just keep coming against Clive Palmer and the un-Titanic II. Belfast Telegraph reports that CSC Jinling Shipyard in China is now referring all comments about Titanic II to Blue Star Line. The Telegraph follows an earlier story in Daily Mail that Deltamarin was no longer working on the ship design and in fact had suspended work 18 months ago. According to the newspaper:
But although Mr Palmer spent millions on marketing his childhood dream project, including a lavish project launch on USS Intrepid in New York, documents just published by the administrators of a former Palmer company, Queensland Nickel, show that little or no money has been put into the development of Titanic II for over two years. Indeed, the only funds directed towards the project were for offsite storage and IT-related expenses. Last week, Mr Palmer said at a press conference he would have to ask his wife if he could pursue the project in retirement – a statement that suggested he was well aware Titanic II was now a mere pipe dream.
It has been a while since we have had a legitimate update about Clive Palmer’s Titanic II. A brief recap might be in order to remind everyone about this project. Amid great fanfare and lots of celebrity meals, Clive Palmer announced in 2012 that he was building a full size replica that would meet all present day safety standards. Firms were contracted for various aspects of planning, testing, and other needed things. Drawings were released and a Chinese shipbuilding firm was to be the its builder.
Then things went very quiet. Nothing was going on at the shipyard, Palmer tried getting Chinese investors aboard, and then he got into a row with the Chinese government. A new launch date of 2018 was announced, investors in Dubai showed interest in licensing Titanic for a major theme destination, and the maiden voyage was shifted from China to Dubai. And now here we are in May 2016 and no construction has yet taken place and no contract to build the ship has been signed. And now we learn from the Daily Mail that a Finnish company Deltamarin, contracted to design the new ship, ceased working with Blue Star back in 2014.
At this point we have no idea how far along Deltamarin was in designing the new ship. They may have done preliminary work and were waiting for Blue Star to commission full scale plans. If they did not commission them, it would be consistent with what we know so far. Palmer likely ran into trouble getting Chinese investors and his row with the Chinese government probably scuttled the ship being built there anyway. His only hope it would seem would be in Dubai these days but whether or not they want to commit to a full scale sailing replica is another matter. My guess is they might be more interested in the Titanic artifact collection that has yet to be sold and awaits a buyer. That would draw in lots of tourists but having a Titanic replica docked nearby could seal the deal. However they might decide to do it themselves without Palmer. Either way, the dream of Titanic II in 2018 looks quite remote at this point.
It is interesting what has happened since my original post on the subject. The reprinted stale news The Independent ran spread through the media. Newspapers, the major news networks, and a lot of blogs ran the story as if it were big news. It proves a theory about mass media today: they pretty much feed off each other and few bother to check the facts. It was amusing to read some of the write-ups. You could see that the editors/writers tried to find something different for their take on the story. At the end it was the same stale news from 2015.
This blog got a lot of hits thanks to jalopnik.com whose more skeptical approach to the story puts the more experienced mass media to shame. MoneyTalksNews has a similar skepticism about the Titanic II project. Krystal Steinmetz zeroes in on the key points and notes that the pictures zapping around the Internet are not the real ship but renderings from several years ago. She also adds (in addition to no construction going on at present) the following:
Plans for the ship could also be capsized by an investigation of Palmer. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission is investigating Palmer and the collapse of his company, Queensland Nickel. Palmer could face criminal charges over alleged use of aliases in company dealings and moving money from his failed business into his self-titled political party. The company owes creditors roughly $100 million.
As it stands now the only viable Titanic replica being built is the one being built by the Chinese themselves-for a theme park far away from the coast. This full replica will be permanently docked there (on water), have rooms for people to stay in, and is the infamous one since it will include a sinking simulator as well. So if you desiring to see a full Titanic replica, that is the only one that is actually being built.
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:
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.
1. The entertainment media is all aflutter telling of a mini-reunion of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DeCaprio at the Golden Globes. At least they are not reminding us for the 1000th time the new Star Wars movie has smashed Titanic’s box office record.
2. Can one describe a school bus flooded as akin to Titanic? It appears so. The United Kingdom has suffered from tremendous rain of late causing all kinds of problems. Now there is a certain rule when driving in areas where water is pretty well concentrated: you avoid it. Cars are not water proofed (a select few are but they are special custom jobs or military)so trying to drive through a deep pond of water on the road will certainly not bode well. Usually the driver gets stranded and a tow truck has to pull your car out. Now you would think a school bus driver with a bus full of kids would want to avoid driving in areas that have already been marked to avoid by authorities. School authorities in North Yorkshire are perplexed and investigating why a school bus with 26 children aboard was driven on a closed road where it ended up in a ditch and began filling with water. A young girl told Sky News “like the Titanic.” Water began pouring into the bus and kids had to kick windows to get out. Sky News also reports the driver was warned by the kids not to take that road.
“It started floating and then it capsized into a ditch, and before it capsized loads of water gushed through,” she said. It was pretty much like the Titanic – it was going.”
Not the kind of things parents want to hear about their kids day at school. None of the kids were injured and either went home or continued on to school via other means.
Source:Flooded School Bus Sank ‘Like The Titanic’(Sky News,5 Jan 2016)
3. Just checked the Blue Star website for any new information about Titanic II. Nothing found.
4. Premier Exhibitions is trying to be more transparent these days. In the past shareholders had complained that management was less than forthcoming about company operations, the proposed sale of Titanic collection, and other things. If recent filings are an indication, the new management is taking a different approach. They are trying to let investors know the company is going to be better managed and trying to increase revenues. Also they are looking into opportunities in Asia and in particular Macau.
Source:Premier Exhibitions Inc. Announces Corporate Update(Globe NewsWire,8 Jan 2016-press release)
Did you hear that the new Star Wars movie has toppled James Cameron’s Titanic off the throne? Hard to miss it since the entertainment media reminds us with screeching headlines announcing this important fact. There are major rumblings in the Middle East, the Turkish prime minister sees Hitler’s leadership as a positive role model, Russia is getting nasty as well but as long as the new Star Wars movie topples Titanic, that is more important.
Down under Clive Palmer’s dream of Titanic II appears moribund. There is still nothing going on at the Chinese shipyard and no formal contract has been signed for its construction. We did learn that if and when it should launch its first stop from China is Dubai. And Dubai has a serious interest in Titanic thanks to developers wanting to make a movie theme park. China is doing better than Palmer in building their Titanic that will be permanently docked at a theme park. You can stay aboard and even experience what it was like as it sank thanks to a sinking simulator. Oh and you can, for a fee, learn what cremation is like first hand (sans the real heat of course). Palmer may not be moving forward with Titanic but the Chinese are.
Premier Exhibitions saw major changes in the past year. Revenues have been mostly flat overall but costs were taking a big chunk of change. One proposed merger deal fell through and recriminations are now headed to court over that. So they sought out Dinoking and its chairman to try and turn around the company. Also they would like to sell the Titanic artifact collection but the price is so astronomical that it is hard to see anyone putting up that money. And it comes with a big sticker shock in the form of permanent judicial oversight from the U.S. Federal Court in Virginia. My guess is that in the end it will either be sold to a government entity of some kind or a consortium either in the Middle East or China. China and Dubai would seem the logical choices and will not be surprised if Beijing steps in to acquire the collection.
Titanic exhibitions continue to draw large crowds wherever they appear. People are fascinated by the story. Belfast has certainly seen it become a big boost for tourism and business. Titanic Belfast continues to draw them in and recently the Nomadic was made part of the exhibition. The fully restored tender is as close to the real Titanic as we can get. It took a lot of dogged work to get it out of France and then even more work to properly restore it. People are so used to how quickly we can turn out things these days but old seafaring vessels require a lot of special work. You do not splash on a new coat of paint and call it a day. It takes hours of patient work to take out the rot and replace it with new material and replacement parts generally hand crafted. Not unlike San Francisco’s historic cable cars. The original factories have long ceased operation and San Francisco has to make all its replacement parts to keep the cars going up and down hills at about nine miles an hour.
Titanic though is steaming on. It sank in 1912 but is still quite alive and well in different forms. People are learning the real story, which is good because there are plenty of lessons from Titanic we can draw from. Pity is that historical forgetfulness often means those lessons are lost but they can be relearned.
Cruise Arabia & Africa reports that Clive Palmer’s Blue Star Line has
announced that Titanic II’s maiden voyage in 2018 will be from Jiangsu, China to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Blue Star has stated that the project is still on refuting rumors of its demise. Originally the maiden voyage was to be from Southampton to New York. James McDonald, the global marketing director of Blue Star Line says the change was due to seeking business partnerships in Dubai.
We are not looking for investment from Dubai, as it is a project we are
funding ourselves, but we have been in contact with a number of
companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising
opportunities that arises with the project. It is people looking to use
the opportunity of the trademark and licensing potential of the
project… We own the Titanic II name and trademark and people are
lining up to be part of it.
Not so long ago I reported of interest in Dubai in Titanic II and
speculated that since Palmer is not getting the Chinese investors he was hoping for, that he would seek out investors in UAE. Now so far they official line is that the ship will still be built in China but suppose
with all those “business partnerships” being formed in Dubai that the ship can be built there and cheaper than China? So far no official order has been placed with a Chinese shipyard, Palmer is involved in a serious row with the Chinese government, and a Titanic replica is already being built. And, just as a wild thought, suppose you could add in the Titanic Artifact collection to Dubai with Palmer’s Titanic II?
Online auctioneer To Auction Off Titanic Lunch Menu Lion Heart Autographs of New York is auctioning off a rare Titanic lunch menu and other artifacts on 30 Sep 2015. The menu is signed in pencil by first class passenger Isaac Gerald Frauenthal. A ticket from the weighing chair in the Turkish baths and a letter written by survivor Mabel Francatelli to Abraham Lincoln Salomon are also being auctioned at the same time. The menu is expected to fetch between $50,000-$70,000, the ticket $7500-$10,000, and the letter $4,000-$6,000.
Source: Last Lunch Menu And Artefacts From Titanic’s Number One Lifeboat Auctioned(31 Aug 2015,The Guardian)
Titanic II or Titanic III? Maritime Executive reports on the new time frame for Titanic II but looks at the Chinese replica being built in China as another possibility for Titanic enthusiasts. The article does not add anything new about Titanic II or the Chinese replica but sort of raises the question as to which one would you rather experience. Assuming of course if Palmer’s Titanic II ever gets built.
Source:Titanic II or Titanic III(30 Aug 2015,Maritime Executive)
Michel Navaratil Remembered At Bratislava Titanic Exhibition Michel Navaratil, who perished when Titanic sank but got his two sons into lifeboats,is being remembered as part of a Titanic exhibition in Bratislava, Slovakia. Navratil was born in Sered’ in 1880 and left for France at age 20. There he met Marcella Caretto with whom he had two sons: Michel and Edmond. After learning his wife had cheated on him, he decided to take his sons to the United States. Sadly he never made it but his kids survived causing a worldwide search for his relatives. Ultimately their mother found about them and they returned to France. The exhibition runs until 6 Dec 2015.
Protecting Titanic: A Bit Too Late To Make A Difference
One of the raging controversies that divides (and still divides)the Titanic community was salvage. When Titanic was found in 1985, two miles down and in international waters, it meant no country could claim it within their borders. A company called RMS Titanic Inc (now part of Premier Exhibitions)went out and brought up some artifacts. It then went to federal court in the United States (in the United States the federal courts have original jurisdiction on maritime claims)and made a salvage claim. Since they had actual artifacts and the company that once owned the ship is gone (technically it became part of Cunard but it made no attempt to exert any legal claim on the wreck), they were awarded salvor-in-possession. One insurance company (which paid money out on a claim when Titanic sank)reached a settlement with RMS Titanic, Inc. The rest, as it is said, is history and the artifacts brought up now comprise Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition.
There was a brief tourist business in having people dive to the wreck. It was hideously expensive and there was some minor legal kerfuffle by RMS Titanic Inc to stop it (they lost). But that has pretty much died away. The wreck itself, like all wrecks, is being slowly eaten up by the sea (microbes and other organisms)and will be nothing more in a decade or more. Hardly anyone dives to it anymore. RMS Titanic Inc gave up its salvage claim and has been trying–unsuccessfully so far–in selling the Titanic collection. Now word comes Canada wants an exception to its claim of territory so it can claim the wreck as being in its waters. Huh? This makes no sense at all except as a publicity stunt. The wreck is disintegrating, some say accelerated by the diving down to it by salvagers and tourists. It might have made sense way long ago but it is far too late to make any difference now. It sounds nice though, from the government point-of-view, that we are taking steps to preserve the final moments of this disintegrating wreck. Too bad no one asks the obvious question why they waited till 2015 when they could have tried it back in 1985.
Source:The Way the Titanic Is Treated May Be About to Change(2 Sep 2015,Newser)
Arabianbusiness.com is reporting that Titanic II will be launched in late 2018 according to a Palmer spokesman. The article points out that back in 2013 Palmer and Blue Star Line were involved in discussions with companies in the United Arab Emirates about Titanic II which included coming to Dubai for its maiden voyage. Could this signal perhaps a change in course (pun intended) about the ship construction? All the reporting so far is that Palmer has had real problems getting Chinese backers and his spat with the Chinese government made things look bleak. Add to it they are already building a Titanic replica for a theme park seems to go against it being built there.
How about Abu Dhabi? Italian shipbuilders Fincantieri expanded their shipyard in Abu Dhabi in 2012 to build more ships for the UAE navy. It is a joint venture with Etihad Ship Building (ESB). Now the Italian shipyard is focused on building naval vessels but what if the UAE wants Titanic II built there? Stay tuned folks. Of course this could just be puffery and Palmer is known for it. Then again he might have found investors there more eager to invest in Titanic II than in China.
[Update: Some people are encountering a problem reading The Australian article. Apparently in some cases it is requiring you to subscribe first to be able to view. You can read an alternative article here at news.com.au.]
The Australian is reporting that nothing is going on at the CSC Jinling shipyard in Nanjing, China to indicate any construction is taking place. According to the newspaper:
Dozens of workers at the shipyard said they had been informed of the Titanic II plans, but the project was yet to be given the formal go-ahead. “That ship was just a proposal. It’s never been carried out and the project has never launched,” one worker, Mr Wang, said.
Last year Blue Star Line signed a memorandum of understanding with AVIC Kaixin Beijing Ship Industry to help raise awareness of the project and secure investors. No report if that has come to anything tangible. Palmer has his own troubles with China. He is currently locked in a dispute with a Chinese company over royalties and said some unkind words about the Chinese government that made it worse.
People around the shipyard are disappointed. A large project like that means lots of workers which help local businesses get a piece of the action.
“They said the Titanic project would bring in big investment and the shipyard would have to employ more people but people have stopped talking about it and there is even suggestions the ship yard is going to move.”
As Captain Kirk would say about now, “Scotty, beam me up.”