An international incident of biblical proportions has kicked off on Ipswich’s waterfront.

A replica of Noah’s Ark is currently stuck there because it doesn’t have the correct paperwork to say that it is seaworthy.

The vessel arrived at Orwell Quay in November 2019 and has been detained there for 18 months by the Coastguard.

The owners of the Dutch-flagged ark are now in an ‘impossible stalemate’ with the agency and now transport secretary Grant Shapps is being asked to get involved.

The £2.6 million biblical museum is owned by Dutch TV producer Aad Peters who could apply for an exemption to be allowed to return to Holland.

But the Coastguard has serious concerns and insist that it is not safe.

They said: ‘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.’

The craft was due to leave on April 1 but because of the stalemate it has been racking up £500-a-day in fines ever since.

The Coastguard found a range of issues, including overdue services for life-saving equipment such as life jackets, fire kit and life boats. They said they could not ‘rely on the grace of God’ to let the boat leave.

The owner said it has always been classed as a ‘non-certified floating object’ and had only left its home country on an ‘infrequent and exceptional basis’, according to the Ipswich Star.

The owners said in a statement: ‘The requirement to obtain full registration and the required certificates was and may not be achievable within the required timescales and would incur unreasonable costs and time delays to the vessel.

‘Towage plans have now been made for the Ark to return to the Netherlands and the vessel is still awaiting towage approval to depart from the UK.

‘Owners have been continuously seeking a means (of release) and (permittance) to be towed on a single voyage from the UK to the Netherlands, with an agreed towage plan.’

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