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Clive Palmer
AP
In this April 25, 2012 photo provided by Crook Publicity, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer poses in front of an artist impression of the Titanic ll at MGM Studios in Los Angeles, Calif.
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updated 4/30/2012 9:59:43 AM ET 2012-04-30T13:59:43

An Australian billionaire said Monday he'll build a high-tech replica of the Titanic at a Chinese shipyard and its maiden voyage in late 2016 will be from England to New York, just like its namesake planned.

Weeks after the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the original Titanic, Clive Palmer announced Monday he has signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to build the Titanic II.

"It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic, but ... will have state-of-the-art 21st-century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems," Palmer said in a statement. He called the project "a tribute to the spirit of the men and women who worked on the original Titanic."

More than 1,500 people died after the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its first voyage. It was the world's largest and most luxurious ocean liner at the time.

Palmer built a fortune on real estate on Australia's Gold Coast tourist strip before becoming a coal mining magnate. BRW magazine reported he was Australia's fifth-richest person last year with more than 5 billion Australian dollars ($5.2 billion).

Palmer said at a news conference that previous attempts to build a Titanic replica failed because proponents failed to raise enough money and commission a shipyard. The Titanic II is the first of four luxury cruise ships Palmer has commissioned CSC Jinling Shipyard to build.

Palmer did not provide a cost estimate. He said he had established a new shipping company, Blue Star Line Pty. Ltd., and that design work for the Titanic II has begun with assistance from a historical research team.

The diesel-powered ship will have four smoke stacks like the coal-powered original, but they will be purely decorative.

The most obvious changes from the original Titanic would be below the water line, including welding rather than rivets, a bulbous bow for greater fuel efficiency and enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for increased maneuverability, Palmer said.

Brett Jardine, general manager for Australia and New Zealand in the industry group International Cruise Council, said Titanic II would be small by modern standards but could prove viable at the top end of the luxury market.

"From a marketing point of view, many will embrace it and perhaps there'll be some that wouldn't," Jardine said.

"If you've got a niche, it's going to work. Why go out there and try to compete with the mass market products that are out there now?" he added.

While the Titanic II would carry around 1,680 passengers, most modern cruise ships create economies of scale by catering for more than 2,000 passengers, he said.

Among the world's largest passenger ships, Allure of the Seas is 90 meters (295 feet) longer than the 270-meter (886-foot) Titanic and has 2,700 cabins.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Relatives of Titanic passengers speak out about disaster

  1. Closed captioning of: Relatives of Titanic passengers speak out about disaster

    >>> tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the titanic sinking , and for those who survived, the trauma of that night would last a lifetime and for generations to come. nbc's jim maceda met up with an american couple with a deep sense of it.

    >> reporter: it took years of marriage before the couple stumbled upon a bond.

    >> we realized we both had relatives on the titanic.

    >> reporter: bob had settled with his family after graduation. and her great, great grandmother was also in first. both survived when more than 1,500 perished and both left accounts of hair owing hours in the freezing north atlantic after the collision wf the titanic and an iceberg three times their size. from their house in portugal, they shared those stories for the first time.

    >> the shock of the water took the breath out of my lungs.

    >> reporter: he had jumped from the titanic before it sank.

    >> down and down i went in all directions. swimming as hard as i could, hopefully getting away from the ship.

    >> reporter: he returned to this overturned life boat .

    >> we fought our way to the darkness. i rode for an hour straight.

    >> come on, girls, row.

    >> reporter: her take-charge attitude inspired this scene, "a night to remember." . both made it to safety but another ordeal began. bucknell became withdrawn and never sailed again. he became a successful banker but could never escape survivor 's guilt and at age 50, he took his life. kate and bob prefer to focus on something that when looking back would have never happened. it's their greatest joy in life, their three children. lucy and jack both accomplished musicians and son bobby, a professional pianist. they plan to tell their story no more. for "today," jim acedmaceda, nbc news, portugal.

    >>> still to come, they remember a popular police chief days before his retirement. but first

Photos: Titanic: 100 years later

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  1. A memorial of light

    Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter creates a test projection on an iceberg in 2011. Hofstetter has plans to project pictures illustrating the sinking of the Titanic on a giant iceberg for the 100th anniversary of the catastrophe. (Michael Kessler / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Re-creating an era

    Mary Beth Crocker, left, and her husband, Tom Dearing, from Newport, Ky., pose for pictures in period costume after disembarking the MS Balmoral Titanic memorial cruise ship on April 9 during its first stop in Cobh, Ireland. With 1,309 passengers aboard, the MS Balmoral will follow the same route the Titanic did in 1912, complete with food and music from the era.

    Story: Titanic cruise delayed due to strong winds (Lefteris Pitarakis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Just in case..

    John Philip of Australia adjusts the life jacket of his sister, Ann Breust, on April 8 during a drill aboard a Titanic memorial cruise from Southampton, England, to New York. (Chris Helgren / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. And the band played on

    Passengers on a Titanic memorial cruise, chartered by Miles Morgan Travel, dance to music from a Belgian string band on April 9 after the ship's departure from Cobh, Ireland. Due to rough weather, an April 10 floor show was canceled over concerns about the safety of the performers. (Chris Helgren / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Now in 3-D

    Actress Kate Winslet arrives at the 'Titanic 3D' UK film premiere on March 27 at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, West London. The 3-D version of the film has been released for the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking and comes 15 years after 1997's "Titanic" was a huge box office hit. (Joel Ryan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A 'Titanic' attraction

    An exterior view shows the Titanic Belfast building March 27 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The six-story attraction opened March 31 and tells the story of the Titanic from the ship's construction in Belfast to her sinking in the Atlantic on her maiden voyage 100 years ago. (David Moir / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. The sailing that never happened

    A 1912 advertisement for the British luxury passenger liner Titanic, part of the White Star Line's fleet, announces an April 20, 1912, sailing. Ticket prices and berth descriptions are provided, but the ship never arrived in New York. The Titanic sank April 15, 1912, killing more than 1,500 passenger and crew members. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A ship like no other

    Workmen stand next to the screws of the RMS Titanic at a shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in this undated photo. The largest ship afloat at the time, the Titanic sank in the north Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City. (The New York Times / Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Maiden voyage

    The Titanic leaves Southampton, England, on her ill-fated maiden voyage on April 10, 1912. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Captain and dog

    A handout picture received from Southampton City Council on April 4, 2012, shows Titanic Captain Edward Smith with a dog. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. First-class cabin

    A computer-generated image shows the first-class accommodations that were available aboard the Titanic. The display can be seen at the newly opened Titanic Belfast attraction in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (AFP - Getty Images, New York Tim) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Second-class cabin

    A video projection of passengers in a re-creation of a second-class cabin is displayed at Titanic Belfast. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Third-class cabin

    A re-creation of a third-class cabin, complete with computer-video projections of passengers, is displayed at Titanic Belfast. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A grand entrance

    A replica of the grand staircase from the sunken Titanic is on exhibition April 2 at the Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum in Singapore. The exhibition features about 275 artifacts recovered from the Titanic. (Roslan Rahman / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Exquisite detail

    The grand staircase between the boat deck and the promenade deck aboard the RMS Titanic in an undated photo. A replica of the Titanic's grand staircase was seen in James Cameron's 1997 movie, "Titanic." (The New York Times / Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A call for help

    A copy of the last message sent from the Titanic, which tells of passengers being put into lifeboats. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Saved

    Survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic approach the RMS Carpathia in this April 15, 1912, photo. The Carpathia rescued hundreds of Titanic passengers. (The New York Times / Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Ferried to safety

    Lifeboats that carried Titanic survivors are uploaded to the RMS Carpathia in the hours after the disaster. (The New York Times / Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. In the headlines

    The front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on April 16, 1912, was devoted to the Titanic disaster. The paper gives the death toll as 1,302 and the number of survivors as 868. Later, official figures were corrected to 1,517 dead and 706 who survived. The main photograph is a montage, placing the Titanic against the Eads Bridge in St Louis, to give an idea of the ship's size. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The aftermath

    A boat from the ship MacKay-Bennett examines an overturned lifeboat from the Titanic. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. An S.O.S.call

    Rescuers help Titanic radio operator Harold Bride off the Carpathia. Bride's S.O.S. call alerted rescuers to the Titanic's sinking. He stayed at his post until the captain released him as the boat deck started taking on water, according to Encyclopedia Titanica. He was washed overboard and made his way onto an overturned boat, but his feet were badly frozen and crushed. From the Carpathia, Bride continued to send messages and names of those saved to land. (Time Life Pictures / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Back home

    Survivors of the Titanic disaster are greeted by their relatives upon their safe return to Southampton, England. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Word of disaster spreads

    This handout picture received from Southampton City Council on April 4, 2012, shows a newsboy outside White Star Line offices in London after the news of the sinking of the Titanic hit in 1912. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Hometown tragedy

    The names of those killed in the sinking of the Titanic are posted outside the offices of White Star Line in Southampton, England, in 1912. Nowhere suffered as much from the sinking of the Titanic as Southampton, which lost 549 residents in the disaster. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Those who died

    Coffins for the recovered bodies from the Titanic are seen in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1912. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Those who survived

    Crew members who survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic are given dry clothing in New York on April 18, 1912. (The New York Times / Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Honoring the heroes

    This May 29, 1912, photograph shows Mrs. J.J. "Molly" Brown presenting an award to Capt. Arthur Henry Rostron for his service in the rescue of the passengers on Titanic. (Library Of Congress / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. In Memoriam

    A commemorative illustration in honor of those who died in the Titanic disaster. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Salvaging a shipwreck

    This 1998 image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc., shows a 17-ton portion of the hull of the RMS Titanic as it is lifted to the surface during an expedition to the site of the shipwreck. The piece, along with 5,500 other artifacts, will be sold at auction as a single collection. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. At the bottom of the sea

    Visitors look at a projection showing images of the wreck of the Titanic on March 27 at Titanic Belfast in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Beginning on the 100th anniversary of the sinking, the remains of the Titanic will be covered by a 2001 U.N. convention on the protection of underwater cultural heritage. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. From the depths

    Two children look down on March 27, 2012, at an image of the Titanic wreck in the Titanic Belfast visitor center. (Peter Muhly / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Titanic treasures

    One of two name boards from a lifeboat on the RMS Titanic is displayed at a 2006 auction at Christie's in New York City. Thousands of artifacts that have been recovered from the wreckage continue to be auctioned off to mark this year's 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. When time stood still

    The pocket watch belonging to Titanic steward Sidney Sedunary, which has stopped at 1:50, roughly 30 minutes before the Titanic sank, is seen on display April 3, 2012, at the SeaCity Museum in Southampton, England. The watch was found in Sedunary's pocket when his body was recovered a few days after the ship sank. (Justin Tallis / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. The company

    The White Star Line logo is seen on a bowl recovered from the Titanic wreck site at the opening of a new exhibition called "The Titanic and Liverpool, the untold story" March 29, 2012, at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, England. (Phil Noble / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. From the Titanic to the auction block

    A locket belonging to Edward Herbert Keeping, a personal valet who died on the Titanic, is an item with direct ties to the Titanic being auctioned by rrauction.com. The locket was officially recorded by the provincial coroner of Nova Scotia before it was returned to Keeping's wife, and is contained in the record of bodies and effects: passengers and crew of S.S. Titanic in the public archives of Nova Scotia. Keeping’s wife replaced her daughter’s water damaged portrait with one of her husband's and the locket has remained in Keeping’s family continuously until the present. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Titanic memorabilia

    A prop life vest, deck chair and bronze ship's bell appear on display April 6, 2012, in New York, along with other Titanic memorabilia to be auctioned off. (Frank Franklin Ii / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Among items recovered...

    A pair of shoes recovered from the Titanic is seen April 2, 2012, at an exhibition at Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum in Singapore. (Roslan Rahman / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A lost child

    A child's shoes believed to be from the body of an unknown boy and recovered by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett, a cable-laying ship chartered by the White Star Line after the Titanic disaster, are seen Jan. 27, 2012, in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Paul Darrow / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Remembering those onboard

    School children in Southampton, England, carry placards featuring each of the victims of the Titanic disaster through the city's center on April 10, 2012. The ill-fated ship set sail on her maiden voyage 100 years ago from Southampton. Reports state that a minute's silence was observed in the city, which had been home to more than 500 of the crew who perished in the disaster. (Chris Ison / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. In loving memory

    A wreath floats in berths 43/44 from where the RMS Titanic set sail on its ill-fated maiden voyage 100 years ago at a Southampton, England, dock during an April 10, 2012, ceremony where descendants of passengers who sailed on the Titanic paid tribute to those who lost their lives. (Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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