One of the aftereffects of James Cameron’s Titanic was the desire to recreate the ship today for people to experience. Museums offer ways to see what was like aboard the famous ship, but this was a to take it to a whole new level of being aboard a real replica of that ship. Clive Palmer famously launched his idea to the world and held events with the sophisticated and upscale crowd to get their support (and perhaps to buy tickets down the road). So off to China he went to have it built. A snag got on the way in the form of a dispute between Palmer and the Chinese government over a different problem. Despite hiring some reputable companies to do advance work, the sound of crickets could be heard at the Chinese shipyard. Nothing was being done and the Covid hit shutting everything down anyway. While stories still circulate it will eventually be built, no one is sure exactly when.
Along the way, a Chinese company decided it would build its own Titanic replica that would be part of a theme park in Sichuan, China. The replica would be housed, anchored really since it would ever pull out to sea), at the Romandsea Seven Star International Culture Tourism Resort. The ship was to be built according to the original specifications and would even allow people to stay overnight as well. One featured attraction that garnered lots of negative press though was a Titanic Sinking Simulator. This would allow people to feel what the ship was like after it hit the iceberg and began sinking. People are attached to Titanic, especially those who are affiliated with Titanic organizations, have relatives that perished or survived, or just are amateur enthusiasts of the Titanic story. And they did not like this idea at all. It got well condemned by them in news reports and television interviews. The Chinese company appeared to have backed down on the idea.
Since then, the reports were that construction was underway and would be ready in a few years. It is now 2021 and instead of being ready for the throngs of tourists, the Global Times (a Chinese owned newspaper with direct ties to its government) ran an article recently that has been gathering rust for seven years. Contracts had been signed and a ceremony was held in 2014 to begin construction. Yet despite reports of something going on, it looks like nothing has been going on for a very long time. And there appears to be no explanation either from the company (Seven Star Energy Investment) or Su Shaojin, the chief executive of the company. Apparently more than 154 million dollars has been invested into the project.
Some news reports speculate that the backlash over the Titanic Sinking Simulator sank the project. That would seem unlikely as they could get around that easy with other activities. It is possible, like Clive Palmer, that company got into its own problems with Chinese government and the project had to be halted. Perhaps some bureaucrat or rules imposed by an agency or Beijing itself put up a barrier preventing the construction. It is obvious something stopped construction and one possible thing was investors were not so keen after all. Perhaps the controversy got to them or the costs of building the replica skyrocketed causing investors to hold back. Whatever it was, it ground construction to a halt for seven years. And there it lingers.
So far it seems the track record of so-called Titanic replicas being built stands at zero. The one and only Titanic still lies at the bottom of the Atlantic. Except for movie replicas, it seems life size versions are still just a dream. Perhaps Clive Palmer or the Chinese company should give Elon Musk a call. If anyone can breathe some life into building one, it might be him.
RUST BUCKET Full-scale £110m Titanic replica lies rusting in China after outrage over plans to recreate iceberg crash (The Sun, 10 Aug 2021)
Life-size Titanic replica lies in dock for 7 years in rust in Sichuan Province (Global Times, 10 Aug 2021)