Ever since the release of James Cameron’s movie ‘Titanic’, there has been a whole host of schemes and projects all promising the same thing: the re-creation of a faithful replica of Titanic. Many people even set-up websites proclaiming to have a company which was going to build a new, all-improved Titanic , only for these sites to disappear weeks and months later, taking with them money sent in by impressionable people who had seen the film, bought the T-shirt, and wanted to sail the ship! Obviously, raising the millions of pounds required to build a replica Titanic these days needs more than a well-designed website to attract serious funding from anybody.
In January, 1998, millionaire Sarel Gous, a South African businessman, founded a new company, RMS Titanic Shipping Holdings, whose sole aim, it was announced, was to construct a full-size replica of Titanic . Instantly, as with most Titanic -related things, the news had swept the world. Two months later, Gous announced that he had managed to acquire a full set of plans from Harland and Wolff in Belfast: what he neglected to say was that anyone can buy them, they’re one of the top sellers at H&W! Many people thought that the plans would be virtually useless anyway, in terms of safety and modern construction techniques, and again, Gous was left looking embarrassed.
His next announcement was a little bit strange too: he told the world’s press that his Titanic replica would commence construction in July, a mere six months after creating the company, and only four months since acquiring the plans. Yet to this day, no ship has ever been designed, let alone built. Sarel Gous’ project did eventually do something exactly as per the original – it sank!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the idea of somebody coming in and building a replica, I personally think it would be a truly beautiful sight to see Titanic 2’s bow thrusters slowly edging her away from Southampton’s berth 44, her new paint glistening in the April sun, smoke pouring from her funnels, and the Lookout each with a new pair of binoculars slung around their necks, but to be perfectly honest, I’d be surprised if anybody could raise enough money to fund a replica Nomadic!
Another widely recognised problem with building a replica Titanic is how to incorporate modern safety standards. Potential designers and builders would have to adhere to the strict Safety Of Life At Sea (S.O.L.A.S.) requirements, and this isn’t simply a case of providing enough lifeboat space for everybody on board. A new Titanic would have to have an almost total internal reconfiguration of her decks, her watertight compartments, her hull construction, etc.
Firewalls would have to be incorporated, and many large internal open areas such as the staircases and dining rooms may have to be moved, or reduced in open area. The lifeboats would have to be a fixed height from the sea, not perched 60-feet up in the air on the boat deck. These couple of examples highlight the amount of compromise there would have to be in constructing a replica. The best we could probably hope for is a vessel ‘in the style of’ Titanic .
What I think might be a better idea is to build a Titanic museum or hotel, somewhere in the world, but preferably Liverpool, Belfast, or Southampton, that would, on the outside, be a full-size mock-up of the ship, right down to the rivets on the outside of the hull. Inside, many rooms could be re-created, so you could visit or stay in a cabin from each class, and most of the public rooms, the bridge, the gymnasium, all of deck areas, the engine and boiler rooms, etc. would be there in the finest detail. There could also be learning areas, lecture theatres, a cinema, shops, interactive areas, web access to some good Titanic sites, and so on. This proposition would be eminently more feasible, a damn sight cheaper, and available to all.