4

There are some projects that try to reconstruct Titanic. A replica would be made and launched in 2018. A videogame, Titanic : Honour and Glory would let us explore the ship in virtual reality. The question is- are there enough references ?

References could be: 1. Old Photos There were taken old photos, from various angles. Did the old photos capture all or there are zones never seen by the camera. 2. New Wreck photos

Nowdays, Titanic has most of its organic materials like wood gone. Could the wreck photos offer information that

  • 1
    Of course, the real question is how close does a modern replica need to be? I imagine that in terms of overall hull shape and size the ship will look tight but I doubt that they'll bother copying the design too closely. For example, changes in safety regulations will mean that they can't copy it exactly and I doubt that modern builders would bother with coal fired steam engines, and their huge coal bunkers, just for authenticity's sake. – Steve Bird Mar 6 '15 at 23:08
  • 1
    This question would have benefited from research. As the answer notes, the blueprints are available, along with extensive project management documentation that explains the design compromises that led to the sinking – Mark C. Wallace Sep 27 '18 at 17:49
  • 2
    At a minimum, please complete your last sentence. – Spencer Sep 27 '18 at 22:57
  • Not really; you can not get the Bessemer steel. That brittle ( untough) steel was the primary problem. – blacksmith37 Sep 29 '18 at 15:18
10

There are probably very few large projects for which there is more information.

It wasn't that long ago, and things that large aren't just built on a whim; they are carefully designed in detail, and then built from the plans.

So we still have the original blueprints, as well as some less detailed drawing like deck plans. It would probably be possible to build yourself a Titanic-class ship just from public information.

  • 6
    Reconstructing an accurate iceberg, would, alas, be rather more difficult... – Clockwork-Muse Mar 7 '15 at 15:07
  • 9
    30 years from now, perhaps impossible. – T.E.D. Mar 7 '15 at 19:07
  • 2
    You can find several discussions of this on the Encyclopedia Titanica message board (encyclopedia-titanica.org/community). A Titanic replica at first blush sounds like a can't-miss proposition. However, as the discussions reveal, even with discreet modern safety additions, a ship where few private cabins have a private toilet (to name one drawback) might prove hard to sell. Titanic's first-class rooms were luxurious for 1912 but most of the ship would seem spartan to modern passengers. – Literalman Aug 16 '18 at 20:22
  • @Literalman - It didn't even occur to me that someone would want to do so out of anything other than idle curiosity. For one thing, the original designs would certainly have not allowed for the installation of modern air-conditioning. – T.E.D. Aug 16 '18 at 20:51
  • @T.E.D.: Winter is coming! Get ready for 2 or 3 of the coldest winters you've ever seen. – Pieter Geerkens Sep 29 '18 at 9:59
2

I've heard stories about rebuilding the Titanic for decades, literally. First stories I (personally) heard were in 1995. So far, nothing remotely materialized. I doubt very much if such a project will ever come to fruition.

You ask if there are enough references. That's one issue. I look at other issues that are at least as important as having the right blueprints at hand. Building a ship is expensive. A modern cruise ship cost a LOT of money: the MS Symphony of the Seas costs $ 1.35 billion dollars to build, to give you an idea. The Titanic II would be less expensive. However, you're still talking about hundreds of millions. It is that expensive.

The oldest cruise ships I have been on were the Rotterdam V, the Queen Elisabeth 2 and the Big Red Boat I (former Oceanic). Plus a lot of other smaller ships. Those ships were pretty much dated when I sailed them. They were well maintained, but facilities weren't up to standards anymore. Those ships were, compared with the Titanic, highly advanced with much better facilities.

An exact replica of the Titanic would have a second and a third class. The Titanic was for its time luxurious, also for steerage passengers. I doubt very much if people are willing to pay if they have to sleep with 10 passengers in one third class cabin. If those cabins are modified to accommodate 2-4 passengers, it's no longer a true replica.

Second problem is the propulsion. I'm not an engineer, but can a steamship running on coal shoveled by hand be done commercially viable today? If the propulsion is changed to -say- diesel engines, is it still a replica?

I ignore equipment that is now compulsory and didn't exist in 1912, such as advanced communication equipment and radar. Not to mention enough lifeboats!

Next are the SOLAS rules (Safety Of Live At Sea). The Titanic II would never ever be able to pass them. A replica must pass those rules, otherwise it cannot sail. Most seafaring nations do not allow non compliant vessels entry to their ports, or depart from it.

Compare it with cars: you are allowed to drive in an old original VW Beetle that doesn't meet modern safety standards. When VW created the New Beetle, that car was not an original Beetle and had to pass all safety standards, without any exceptions. The same would apply to the Titanic II.

Another problem is the cost of manual labor. Most of the woodwork was crafted by experts. In those days, that was affordable. The cost of the same expert craftsmen today are not. (Which is good, because they deserve a decent income!)

It's not impossible to make a fairly decent replica of the Titanic, but a 1:1 exact replica is not possible. Unless a truly rich person is willing to pour many (hundreds of) millions in it, without ever recouping his investment. And accepting the fact that his ship cannot leave port.

Long story short:

  • Do we have enough information to reconstruct the Titanic? Probably yes. Others, more qualified than myself, think there is enough information.
  • Is it ever going to be build? No, that seems quite impossible.
  • 1
    I'm not sure this answers the question which was whether we have enough references to make such a reconstruction possible, rather than whether it would be a practical project. (As T.E.D.'s answer shows, the answer to that question is 'yes'). – sempaiscuba Sep 29 '18 at 8:56
0

In addition to the other issues already mentioned, there are a number of problems when thinking of building an authentic replica of the Titanic. The Titanic was built with the best technology of 1900. It was also an attempt to build a passenger ship larger than any previous examples, with the architects facing new problems for the first time. In retrospect, the Titanic design has a number of known engineering flaws.

They hadn't discovered the bulbous bow at that point, which would make an exact replica very fuel hungry. That was one reason the Titanic's sister ship Olympic was retired, along with other pre-bulbous bow liners, when the 1930's designed liners with bulbous bows like the Queen Mary and Normandie proved to be faster and more fuel efficient.

Titanic was powered by coal fired steam plants. Not very efficient, as compared to modern diesel powered cruise ships or even vintage oil fired liners. Just the labor costs of loading coal into the bunkers and then the massive boilers would be astronomical... labor was much cheaper in 1912, even adjusted for inflation. When ocean liners were built to run on oil, the cost of fueling the ship and operating the ship plunged considerably, as most of the hand labor involved with moving coal was eliminated by simply pumping the oil.

Another basic flaw: there is the danger of coal dust explosions in the huge coal bunkers, when they are nearly empty. It is believed that the Britannic was actually sunk by a coal dust explosion touched off by a single mine, and the Lusitania may have been sunk by a coal dust explosion in a near empty bunker, touched off by a single torpedo... it wasn't the torpedo but a second, much larger explosion that blew part of Lusitania's keel out, sinking it quickly. As Lusitania was near the end of her voyage, most of her coal bunkers would have been empty, and full of highly explosive coal dust.

Another danger of large coal fired ships: In recent years, examination of Titanic photos reveal that the plates that buckled may have been weakened by a fire in a nearly full coal bunker, another hazard of large coal bunkers. It has been theorized, but never proven, that the fire was never fully extinguished, and Titanic was speeding in fog (leading to the collision with the iceberg) to get to New York before the fire flared out of control.

And, an exact replica would reproduce another Titanic flaw... insufficient lifeboats. Both of Titanic's sister ships Britannic and Olympic had much greater lifeboat capacity after the disaster, altering their appearance with the multiple stacked lifeboats on large swinging cranes added to the upper deck.

Not everything is in the blueprints. An examination of the Britannic wreck showed an engineering change made after the Titanic disaster... the flex joint towards the rear of the ship (where Titanic broke apart while on the surface) had been changed on Britannic to a rounded end less prone to cracking and tearing. One has to wonder what other engineering changes were made to correct for errors or lack of knowledge that aren't in the original blueprints. Titanic was very much an experiment in building the largest possible passenger liner... and they didn't get everything right the first time.

Even a lookalike built on modern technology to modern seafaring standards would probably not be practical, once the novelty wore off. Titanic could carry around 2000 passengers. The typical large cruise ship carries three to four times that, while using the same amount of fuel. Tickets for a cruise would be very expensive. Adding enough passenger space to make a repro semi-viable would alter the upper deck lines considerably.

At one point, NCL had purchased the derelict SS United States with the goal of turning it into a cruise ship. The plan was to pull out the aircraft carrier steam turbine engines and replace them with efficient diesels, and add two or three decks to the superstructure to raise passenger capacity (and altering the lines of the ship considerably). NCL found that this simply wasn't economically viable, and that's starting with an existing hull built on 1950's tech, with a superstructure made of aluminum for very light weight (less fuel, higher top speed).

So if a more modern passenger liner can't be converted into a cruise ship economically, it's extremely unlikely that an old design like Titanic could be built from scratch with the expectation of any sort of return on investment. This could be why the current replica in China may have been stalled.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.