In what is not quite a disaster of biblical proportions, a replica Noah’s Ark collided with another boat at sea.
No living thing, human or otherwise, was injured on Friday when the wood-and-steel ship smashed into the Norwegian coast guard vessel moored in an Oslo harbor. The ark does not have an engine and is incapable of steering, but when the tugboat that had been towing the ark lost control, catastrophe struck.
The 230-foot-long ark careened into a nearby patrol boat, the Nornen. A crane on the coast guard boat snapped; the impact punctured a large hole in the ark’s wooden skin, though because the damage was above the waterline the ship did not appear to be in danger of sinking.
The ark was built by Dutch carpenter Johan Huibers, who said he was inspired after dreaming about a great rain that flooded his home in the Netherlands.
To the carpenter, the dream that took seven years to complete has taken a darker turn. “I’m shaking now,” Huibers said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s a terrible situation. It’s an awful dream, to have an accident with the ark of Noah.”
This ark is the smaller of a pair of replicas he constructed. The larger ship sits currently in a Rotterdam port; this boat was making its maiden transatlantic voyage to Brazil.
“The target is to reach Fortaleza in July, and reach the Paralympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro by September 7,” Herald Janssen, director of the American nonprofit group Ark of Noah Foundation, told ABC News in April. The charity is raising money to give Brazilian orphans a free tour of the ark and a Bible. It is not clear if or how long the accident will delay the trip, but Huibers said he plans to travel to Norway soon, taking his hammer and nails along to fix the hole in the side of the ark.
Over the past decade, there has been something of a bumper crop in expensive Noah’s Ark replicas: A life-size ark opened in a Hong Kong theme park in 2009, though it eschewed realism for a water-view restaurant. Another ark is underway in Kentucky and, at 510 feet long, may be the largest of the lot. Being built to the tune of $92 million, it is the next project from Creation Museum founder and evangelist Ken Ham.
Former president Jimmy Carter, who visited the Kentucky structure on Friday, remarked to the Cincinnati Enquirer it was some of the finest woodwork he had ever seen. He was there to support a friend in the construction business, Carter said, not because he endorses the Creation Museum or its claim that the world is 6,000 years old. At the site of the ark, Carter, as a Christian, professed a belief in Jesus and, “as a scientist,” noted he believed in evolution and in the Earth’s 4 billion-year-old age.