A 230ft-long replica of Noah’s Ark has been impounded in Ipswich Waterfront after it was deemed unseaworthy by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
The ship is a four-floored floating museum which depicts various Bible stories, including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Goliath. It also has a “tree of life” growing 12 metres up through the middle of the ship.
The attraction arrived in Ipswich in November 2019 after being towed across the North Sea from the Netherlands and was due to set sail again in March last year.
But, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Ipswich Star, the MCA said the ship lacked a load line certificate, which states how low in the water the ship can be when fully loaded. The ship’s paint also contains chemicals that could be harmful to wildlife and therefore was not suitable for sailing.
Its owner, Dutch television and theatre producer Aad Peters, tried to obtain permission for a one-way trip back to the Netherlands but it was denied. In emails seen by the Ipswich Star, an MCA employee wrote: "We do have concerns about this vessel and we cannot rely on the grace of God that it can be safely towed to Holland."
The detention of the vessel has cost Peters £12,132 so far and the ship has been racking up £500 fines for the last two months.
It is understood that Dutch and UK authorities are in conversations to try to get the ship moving. However, a spokesman for the MCA said: "The vessel, Noah's Ark, will remain detained until all the deficiencies have been put right and a Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveyor is invited back by the owners to check that they have been corrected."
Peters’ spokesperson said in a statement: “The requirement to obtain full registration and the required certificates may not be achievable within the required timescales and would incur unreasonable costs and time delays to the vessel.
“Towage plans have been made for the Ark to return to the Netherlands and the vessel is still awaiting towage approval to depart from the UK.