A Dutch replica of the biblical animal rescue ark has been held in the UK for 19 months because it is found to be unfit for navigation – sparking a diplomatic row and fines of $ 700 a day, according to a report.
The 230-foot-long floating museum made a rare trip out of Holland in November 2019 to dock at Orwell Quay in Ipswich – where it was impounded by coast guards who refused to let it go, documents show official obtained by the Ipswich Star.
“We have concerns about this ship and we cannot count on the grace of God so that it can be towed safely to the Netherlands,” officials from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency wrote in documents.
They cited the 61-year-old $ 3.7 million ark, as well as the lack of certificates and necessary information about its weight and stability, according to the report.
So far, he has racked up a bill of over $ 17,000 as a result of his detention – with daily fines since April 1 now $ 700, the newspaper said.
The owner of the ark, Dutch TV producer Aad Peters, said the ship was cleared for previous voyages because it is an ‘uncertified floating object’ that is not kept to comply with international regulations.
He complained that he now finds himself at an ‘impossible dead end’ where he is fined for not leaving the UK – but also banned from taking to sea.
The Dutch government lobbied UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, as well as the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Department, according to the report.
“There is only one ark in the world, so let it go,” pleaded a former Dutch MP to his British counterparts, according to the newspaper.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, however, said the diplomatic question appears to have “hit a brick wall a bit”.
“It’s a very strange and unusual problem to arise,” he told the local newspaper. “We are working with the Dutch authorities and doing our best to bring him back to the Netherlands one way or another. “
A spokesperson for the UK Department for Transport told the newspaper he 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 in custody until all deficiencies have been corrected and an MCA expert is invited to return by the owners to verify that they have been corrected” .
Peters purchased the ark in 2010 and a team of 50 expert artisans took five months to create the museum, with wood carvings depicting biblical stories including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and the Nativity. It’s thought to be about half the size of the one described in the Bible, according to its website.