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CNHI Special Projects

April 7, 2012

Belfast draws tourists to site where doomed ship was built

(Continued)

BELFAST, Northern Ireland —

Next, visitors see a 4-minute CGI tour (computer-generated imagery) of the finished Titanic, rising deck by deck, from engine room to the famed first-class cabin staircase made famous in James Cameron's 1997 epic movie "Titanic." In the same room are recreations of first, second and third-class cabins, again with video projections of fictional passengers going into their bunks or getting ready for dinner.

There's no skimping on historical detail for true maritime and Titanic junkies. Every available wall is plastered, in logical chronology, with details about every phase of construction, every firm and engineering speciality involved, and every part described from the ship's four 24-foot-wide (7.3-meter-wide) funnels to its six onboard pianos.

The ship's voyage to Southampton, then to its other European ports of call in Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland, are detailed in turn: The numbers and notables who boarded, their stories and tales of excitement about the voyage to New York ahead.

An entire wall is given over to a reprint of the final surviving photograph taken of Titanic on April 11, 1912, as she sailed away from Queenstown, the County Cork port today renamed Cobh.

Around the next corner, Titanic Belfast plunges into the disaster. A series of panels reprints the confused wireless messages among ships as Titanic appeals, minute by minute, for help from other vessels. The room is deliberately chilly as light projections create an image of dark lapping waters underfoot.

"What is the matter with you?" asks the Frankfurt at 12:34 a.m. after the Titanic hit the iceberg at 11:40 p.m.

"Cannot last much longer," the Titanic tells its sister ship, the Olympic, nearly an hour later.

"We are rushing to you," says the Baltic at 1:37 a.m.

Eight minutes later, the Titanic issues its final call to another ship, the Carpathia: "Come as quickly as possible old man: The engine room is filling up to the boilers."

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