Was Noah’s Ark Seaworthy?

13 Oct

Noah's Ark Image from Google Images

Noah’s Ark
Image from Google Images

There has been of late some criticism of Noah’s Ark concerning its seaworthiness. Critics have sought to undermine a believer’s trust in the truthfulness of the Genesis account by pointing out that wood simply isn’t the best material for building ships. The arguments range from there wasn’t enough wood available to build the Ark[1] to the Ark was too large for a wooden ship to be seaworthy. What can we say of these things?

First of all, the argument concerning the wood has to do with the presumption that Noah built the Ark in the Mesopotamian Valley (modern Iran) and there isn’t much wood available there today. This argument is easily dismissed in that thousands of years have transpired, and the land most likely looked a lot differently in Noah’s day than it does today. Moreover, the text in Genesis does not put Noah in Mesopotamia; it is silent concerning Noah’s location until the landing of the Ark in the mountains of Ararat.

It has also been pointed out that problems of stress upon such a large vessel would cause it to break up in the open seas, even from average ocean currents. Moreover, expansion of the wood when wet would cause it to crack, and/or break the seals between the wooden planks and cause too much leakage for the Ark to stay afloat, and therefore, the Genesis account cannot be true. It has been shown that the largest wooden vessels built in the 19th and 20th centuries were laden with leakage problems and were eventually either taken out of service or they were sunk in a storm. While this is true, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Some of the largest wooden vessels (300 feet or more) that were built were never meant to be seaworthy. That is, they were built as temporary ships in order to escape the wood tax levied upon the forestry industry. They made one voyage to England and were dismantled, and the lumber was then sold on the market. Of course, these ships leaked, and of course they were taken out of service. That was the plan. Nevertheless, neither is this the whole story. Some were intended to be used as seaworthy vessels. The Great Republic (334 feet)[2] sailed for 19 years before it was abandoned in a hurricane off Bermuda, where it sunk. The Wyoming (350 feet)[3] sank in a storm in the open seas after 14 years of service.

Nevertheless, the Ark was a barge-like vessel, not meant to ‘sail the seven seas’, but to float and keep alive all who were aboard—not for 15-20 years, but for a year or so, and that is all. How seaworthy was the Ark is the question at hand? Many things are not taken into consideration by the critics, and this is understandable. A critic, by nature, does not support an idea; he uses all his expertise to tear down an idea. If there were supportable grounds for the seaworthiness of the Ark, one would not find them in a critic’s book or on his website. This should be logical and clear to everyone who reads this blog. That said, independent studies have been made regarding Noah’s Ark: could it have been seaworthy, etc. For example, a study was made by Dr. Seon Won Hong,[4] a naval architect. He is an evolutionist, so bias should not be a logical assumption concerning his study, and he found that the Ark was, indeed, seaworthy; it was stable, it was safe, and it was reasonably comfortable.

[1]Noah’s Ark: Sea Trials”; October 11, 2011, offered by Brian Dunning

[2] The S.S. Great Republic was launched on October 4, 1853.

[3] The Wyoming was a six-masted schooner, the largest ever built, placed in service out of Main in 1909.

[4] Dr Seon Won Hong was principal research scientist when he headed up the Noah’s Ark investigation. In May 2005 Dr. Hong was appointed director general of MOERI (formerly KRISO). Dr Hong earned BS degree in naval architecture from Seoul National University and PhD degree in applied mechanics from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Posted by on October 13, 2013 in naturalism, Noahic Flood


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4 responses to “Was Noah’s Ark Seaworthy?

  1. Eddie

    May 27, 2015 at 05:54

    Thanks for reading, Shari, and also for the link. You make a good point concerning the reason for western criticism of Noah’s ark. Thanks for that.

  2. librarygeekshari

    May 27, 2015 at 02:25

    Perhaps it is because Dr. Seon Won Hong is Korean that he is less prejudiced about the seaworthiness of large wooden boats. I imagine the critics of the seaworthiness of a wooden ship of the size of the ark must be ill informed about anything except European ships. They were puny in comparison to the ships of the Chinese navy during the Ming Dynasty. Some of the biggest galleons of the 15th century Chinese explorer Zheng He were said to measure 400 ft by 150 ft! Although there are only a few wrecks to prove their size, the scientific community is more ready to accept the possibility of the Chinese creating a wooden boat of the size of the ark, even if they doubt the size of Noah’s ark. Witness my source for this info:

  3. Eddie

    October 14, 2013 at 20:24

    Thanks Vlad. I did a little search and a bunch of videos came up. I’ll have to search through them to get the one you mention.

  4. Vlad

    October 14, 2013 at 12:49

    Answers in Genesis made a 30 minutes video a while ago about this topic. I’m sure it is possible to find it online. Also, for my Russian brothers in Christ, I translated the video to my YouTube channel:

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