Chinese firm to build replica of Titanic

HONG KONG - A Chinese firm plans to spend US$165 million (S$209.15 million) building a full-scale replica of the Titanic - the doomed luxury liner which sank more than a century ago - as the main attraction for a theme park, reports said Tuesday.

The original and supposedly unsinkable luxury passenger liner struck an iceberg and went down in the North Atlantic in 1912, killing more than 1,500 people.

The famous ship is a subject of immense fascination for many in China, particularly after the 1997 release of James Cameron's film on the liner's doomed voyage starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Little known Chinese energy company Seven Star Energy Investment said the replica, which is expected to cost 1 billion yuan (S$209.15 million), will be the main attraction for a planned theme park located in Sichuan, a landlocked province famous for its spicy food.

The replica will be docked permanently on a river, the South China Morning Post reported.

"When the Titanic was about to sink, the greatest extent of human spirit and responsibility was shown and that spirit goes beyond borders and it is eternal," Seven Star chief executive Su Shaojun said in an interview with the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"We chose to rebuild the Titanic in China so that such spirit can be promoted or inherited in the east," he said.

The replica will also recreate the experience of what it felt like when the luxury liner collided with the iceberg, Xinhua reported, though it gave no details of how the deadly collision would be replicated.

Construction of the ship, which is 270 metres long, is expected to be completed in two years and will be based on designs of the Titanic's sister ship, RMS Olympic, which was in service from 1911 to 1935, the SCMP reported.

"We already have complete design drawings, including a large ballroom and premium first class rooms," Su said in the Xinhua interview.

Seven Star are not the only group with dreams of recreating the Titanic.

Flamboyant Australian tycoon Clive Palmer previously unveiled a plan last year to build a sea-worthy replica of the Titanic which is scheduled to make its first Atlantic crossing in 2016.

Palmer's "Titanic II" will feature modern modifications - including many more lifeboats than the original - but will try to remain as true as possible to the famous liner.

The violin played by the Titanic's bandmaster as the ship sank beneath the waves sold at auction for £900,000 (S$1.84 million) in October, smashing the previous £220,000 record for memorabilia from the doomed liner.