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'Noah's Ark' Crashes Into Other Ships in Holland Harbor

Noah's Ark replica in the Netherlands

Early this year, the Netherlands experienced a shipping disaster of biblical proportions. The storm came, the winds blew, and a nearly full-size Noah's Ark crashed into multiple ships in a Dutch harbor.

The ark broke free of its moorings in the harbor of Urk, slamming into several boats, causing significant damage to a ferry. Seven people on the ark had to be evacuated by the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM), while one rabbit and a pair of snakes were left on the boat to weather the storm. Eventually, the massive vessel was towed back to its berth.

"We had fastened it properly as we're used to storms. I don't know how it managed to break loose," explained Aad Peters, the ark's current owner. The ark itself suffered only minor damage.

This biblical replica, a wooden structure on 21 steel barges, is not the same as the one that suffered more serious damage in June 2016, when it collided with a Norwegian Coast Guard vessel in Oslo Harbor.

Johan Huibers, a Dutch building contractor and carpenter, had a dream in 1992 when he saw the waves of the sea overwhelming the Netherlands in a severe storm, according to the Dutch Noah's Ark website. Huibers built the ark, not to save people and animals from a massive flood, but "to tell people that there is a God who loves us and has a plan for our lives."

After a long period of studying and saving, Huibers began building the ark in 2005 in the harbor of Schagen. This first ark was smaller — 390 feet long, 98 feet wide, and 75 feet high — and it cost almost $5 million. It opened in April 2007. The ark visited various harbors in the Netherlands: Rotterdam, Zaandam, Arhnem, Drachten, Oudeschild, Vianen, Harderwijk, Vlissingen, and 13 other berths. This is the ark Peters purchased in 2010, the one that slammed into ships in the Dutch harbor.

Peters, a Dutch TV and theater producer, has been living on the ship for seven years. He runs the ark as a floating museum, displaying pseudo-biblical artifacts. Unlike the original ark, Peters' version has no live animals, other than the rabbit and snakes.

The team behind the ark later constructed a full-size replica, based on the Genesis account. This more ambitious project began in 2009, and the newer ark opened in July 2012. The Ark of Noah Foundation planned to take that ark to Rio de Janiero for the Olympics in 2016.

The story of Noah and the Ark appears in Genesis 6-9. That passage tells the story of a man chosen by God to preserve humankind and certain animals during a great flood.