Biblical proportions: The ark under construction near Rotterdam will hopefully make its maiden voyage up the Thames for the 2012 Olympics
If all goes to plan, the modern-day Noah’s Ark will make its way up the Thames at the end of its maiden voyage next year, 4,000 years after the original is said to have set sail.
The vessel’s Dutch creator, Johan Huibers, has written to London Mayor Boris Johnson to ask for permission to moor it in the capital during the Olympic Games.
The 60-year-old construction company owner said he hopes his ark, telling the story of Noah and with live and model animals inside, will inspire schoolchildren.
‘It is to tell people that there is a Bible and that, when you open it, there is a God,’ he said.
According to the Bible, God set out to punish the world for its wickedness with an all-consuming flood, sparing the blameless Noah and ordering him to build a vast lifeboat for his family and a pair of every animal.
Mr Huibers decided to build his 3,000ton vessel nearly 20 years ago after having a dream about a great flood swamping Holland which he saw as a signal to spread God’s message.
Despite his wife’s resistance, he finally started construction three years ago on the river at Dordrecht, near Rotterdam, using the exact dimensions of the ark which Noah is said to have built.
Mr Huibers’s replica has cost more than $1million and is constructed on 25 steel barges drawn together to form a basin, with a heavy steel frame to keep it rigid. Two conference rooms will seat a total of 1,500 people.
He built it out of Swedish pine, which he believes is what God meant when he told Noah to use ‘resin wood’ for his. The lower deck will feature moving animal models, including a robot lion. Real animals will be kept on the second floor, with a raised viewing area for visitors.
An aviary with free-flying birds will be on the third floor and there will also be living quarters on board for Mr Huibers and his wife.