Now it’s Noah’s Ark that needs saving.
A Dutch replica of the biblical animal-rescuing ark has been held in the U.K. for 19 months because it is deemed unseaworthy — sparking a diplomatic spat and $700-a-day fines, according to a report.
The 230-feet long floating museum made a rare trip out of Holland in November 2019 to dock in Orwell Quay in Ipswich — where it was impounded by coastguard officers who refused to let it sail away, according to official documents obtained by the Ipswich Star.
“We do have concerns about this vessel and we cannot rely on the grace of God that it can be safely towed to Holland,” officials from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency wrote in the documents.
They cited the $3.7 million ark being 61 years old, as well as it lacking necessary certificates and information about its weight and stability, the report said.
So far, it has racked up a bill of more than $17,000 from being detained — with daily fines since April 1 now $700, the paper said.
The ark’s owner, Dutch TV producer Aad Peters, said that the vessel had been permitted to make previous trips because it is a “non-certified floating object” not required to comply with international regulations.
He has complained that he is now in an “impossible stalemate” where he is being fined for not leaving the U.K. — but also forbidden from setting sail.
The Dutch Government has been lobbying U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, as well as the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the report said.
“There is only one ark in the world, so let it go,” a former MP in Holland pleaded with UK counterparts, according to the paper.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said the diplomatic issue appears to have “hit a bit of a brick wall,” however.
“It’s a very strange and unusual issue to crop up,” he told the local paper. “We’re working with the Dutch authorities and are trying our best to get it back to Holland one way or another.”
A spokesperson for the UK Department of Transport told the paper that it was “aware of the situation” and “in discussions with relevant agencies in the UK and the Netherlands.”
“Safety remains the top priority,” the spokesperson stressed.
The MCA insisted that “Noah’s Ark will remain detained until all the deficiencies have been put right and an MCA surveyor is invited back by the owners to check they’ve been corrected.”
Peters bought the ark in 2010 and a team of 50 expert craftsmen took five months to create the museum, with wooden sculptures depicting Bible stories including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel and the nativity. It is thought to be about half the size of the one depicted in the Bible, according to its website.
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