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Titanic II scheduled for 2018

It’s a story that has fascinated us for more than 100 years: A grand ship designed with the utmost luxury in mind sinks to the bottom of the frigid Atlantic Ocean after being touted as “unsinkable.” Museums have been erected and, of course, blockbuster movies have been made, all to fulfill our fascination with this infamous icon. But one Australian billionaire, Clive Palmer, thought there was one experience left unexplored: creating an exact replica. Get ready for Titanic II.

Scheduled for 2018, Titanic II is set to follow the same path as the ill-fated vessel took in 1912, but this time it plans to complete the journey.

“The Titanic was the ship of dreams,” Palmer said in New York at the project’s official launch. “Titanic II is the ship where dreams will come true.”

This romantic notion has garnered a lot of discussion about whether or not it is a good idea. “Everyone is familiar with the decadence and beauty of the Titanic, and the nostalgic look at luxury from that era certainly inspires a certain association,” said Ross McGraw, senior vice president of creative brand experience at Optimist Inc. “On the downside, there is also an immediate connection to the tragedy and some less-than-luxurious lower-class areas” in the original ship.

Palmer says he’s aware of these negative associations and even plans to make the divide that used to exist between the upper and lower classes on the original Titanic system part of the experience. Forget inside, outside, or balcony stateroom options; passengers will be choosing between first class, second class, or steerage when it comes to their tickets.

Titanic 2

Titanic 2

Period costumes appropriate to their class will even be provided, and there’s a discussion of multiclass tickets so people can experience all three levels. Palmer joked that he would in third class because “that’s where the fun’s going to be.”

Playing dress-up and reliving the grandeur of the turn of the century may be very appealing to some, but what about the attachment to a terrible tragedy? “We find that people separate the historical significance of the Titanic and modern cruising,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of Cruise Critic. “In fact, the blockbuster film starring Leo DiCaprio has actually spurred major interest in cruising, and some cruise lines even show it on board. Plus, so much has changed since 1912, in terms of safety, technology, and ship design.”

Titanic 2

Titanic 2

Cruise ships today may look much different than they did in the past, but Palmer promises that passengers will get the chance to see and feel what it was like to be on the most famous ship of all time. Historians, experts, and craftsmen are working together to ensure that Titanic II has all the same intricate details as the original. “We’re bringing in some of the best designers for cruise shipping from Europe that have had years of experience to make sure nothing is overlooked,” said Palmer. “We have a specification that is far, far superior than the original Titanic. But, the experience on the ship will be exactly the same.”

Still, there’s one question on everyone’s mind: Are there enough lifeboats? Though Titanic II will closely resemble the original, there will be important modifications, including a slightly wider hull, an extra layer of decking, and modern lifeboats. Palmer wants to pay homage to those 1,500 victims while maintaining total safety if something were to go wrong. “We will have 130 percent more than what is required,” said Palmer. “There is also a helicopter pad and satellite technology and navigation.”

Could this ship truly be unsinkable? Palmer stopped short of making that boasting, simply saying, “It would be very cavalier to say anything like that. I think people have said that in the past.”

Unlike the original, Titanic II has a website and Twitter account so people can stay up to date on the progress of the ship. Both will let you know when tickets finally become available.

The Titanic and icebergs 1912

Ever since RMS Titanic sank on that fateful day in 1912, scientists have been struggling to explain the “perfect storm of circumstances that conspired to doom” the luxury liner.

Previous studies suggested that Titanic was done in by a confluence of extreme environmental conditions, but new research conducted at the University of Sheffield in England suggests that 1912 may not have been such an exceptional year after all. In fact, the researchers behind the new study think the threat icebergs pose to oceangoing ships is greater today than it was back in the day.

“While 1912 was a year with a significant number of icebergs, the number wasn’t outside previous records,” Professor Grant Bigg, a senior lecturer in earth systems science at the university, told The Huffington Post in an email. “This is in contrast to previous views, which have suggested the iceberg risk was exceptional that year.”

Bigg and a colleague examined variations in iceberg numbers in the Atlantic Ocean over the 20th Century, paying special attention to bergs that passed south of a line in the ocean drawn at 48° N latitude.

In 1912, the researchers found, 1,038 icebergs crossed that line. While that number is above average for a 12-month period, even greater numbers of icebergs were observed crossing the line during other 12-month periods.

Titanic iceberg

Titanic iceberg

Average sea-ice limit for April 1979-2013 (dotted), a typical Newfoundland maximum sea-ice limit for the early twentieth century (dashed and denoted as 1912), and the maximum iceberg limit for 1900-2000 are shown, in addition to the 48°N line. The location of the Titanic collision is shown by an “X”.

The researchers also looked to see if unusual weather conditions played a role in Titanic’s sinking. Again, while weather was a bit out of the norm in 1912, other years saw more extreme conditions.

“The weather conditions in the days around the collision favored movement of ice and icebergs further south than normal, but again not to unprecedented latitudes,” Bigg said in the email. “The speed of the ship in what were known to be icy conditions must have played a role. The crew and captain have been blamed for this in the past.”

The Titanic

The Titanic

In taking a closer look at the trajectories of icebergs in 1912, Bing and his colleague noticed one iceberg that stood out: one that calved from a glacier in southwest Greenland in 1911 and passed closest to the site at which Titanic went down. According to the trajectory model, this iceberg was likely about 500 meters long when it calved and then shrank over the next few months to a length of around 125 meters. That’s the reported size of the iceberg that hit the Titanic.

Aside from reshaping long-held theories about the Titanic tragedy, the new findings — described in a paper published online in July 2014 edition of the journal Significance — may hold an important warning for seagoing vessels today.

“As use of the Arctic, in particular, increases in the future, with declining summer sea ice the ice hazard will increase in waters not previously used for shipping,” the researchers conclude in the paper. “As polar ice sheets are increasingly losing mass as well, iceberg discharge is increasing… and increasing global warming will likely cause this trend to continue.”