Safety Investigation of Noah’s Ark in a Seaway

Matthew Poole’s 1669 drawing of Noah's Ark in water

Structural safety, overturning stability, and seakeeping quality

by S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong, D.S. Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G. Je

Abstract

In this study, the safety of Noah’s Ark in the severe environments imposed by waves and winds during the Genesis Flood was investigated. Three major safety parameters—structural safety, overturning stability, and seakeeping quality—were evaluated altogether to assess the safety of the whole system.

The concept of ‘relative safety’, which is defined as the relative superiority in safety compared to other hull forms, was introduced and 12 different hull forms with the same displacement were generated for this purpose. Evaluation of these three safety parameters was performed using analytical tools. Model tests using 1/50 scaled models of a prototype were performed for three typical hull forms in order to validate the theoretical analysis.

Total safety index, defined as the weighted average of three relative safety performances, showed that the Ark had a superior level of safety in high winds and waves compared with the other hull forms studied. The voyage limit of the Ark, estimated on the basis of modern passenger ships, criteria, revealed that it could have navigated through waves higher than 30 metres.

Introduction

There has been continuing debate over the occurrence of the Genesis Flood and the existence of Noah’s Ark in human history. Even though many scientific researches on the occurrence of the Flood itself have been made by geologists and anthropologists, limited information is known about Noah’s Ark, and conclusive physical evidence about the remains of the Ark has not been discovered, despite many searches this century of sites such as the Ice Cave and Anderson sites. While little is known about the hull form and the structure of the Ark, the size and the material of the Ark given in the Bible themselves are enough to warrant the attention of naval architects and so enable investigations of the practicality of the Ark as a drifting ship in high winds and waves.

In this study, the safety of the Ark in the severe environments imposed by the waves and winds during the Genesis Flood was investigated.

In general, the safety of a ship in a seaway is related to three major safety parameters—structural safety, overturning stability, and seakeeping quality. Good structural safety ensures the hull against damage caused mainly by wave loads. Enough overturning stability is required to prevent the ship from capsizing due to the heeling moment caused by winds and waves. Good seakeeping quality is essential for the effectiveness and safety of the personnel and cargo on board.

Information about the hull is of course available from the existing references to Noah’s Ark, and from the reasonable (common sense) assumptions of naval engineers. In order to avoid any error due to the lack of complete hull information, we introduced the concept of ‘relative safety’, which was defined as the relative superiority in safety compared to other hull forms. For this purpose, 12 different hull forms with the same displacement were generated systemically by varying principal dimensions of the Ark. The concept of relative safety of a ship has been introduced by several researchers, such as Comstock and Keane, Hosoka et al., Bales and Hong et al., to analyze the seakeeping quality. In this paper, we extend the relative safety concept for the seakeeping quality to the concept of total safety, including structural and overturning safety.

An index for structural safety was obtained by assessing the required thickness of the midship for each hull form to endure the vertical bending moment imposed by waves. An index for overturning stability was obtained by assessing the restoring moment of the ship up to the flooding angle. An index for seakeeping quality was obtained by assessing six degrees of freedom of ship motions and related accelerations due to wave motion. Finally the total safety index was defined as a weighted average of the three indices.

Ship motions and wave loads for the analysis were predicted by using a strip method developed by Salvesen, Tuck and Faltinsen.6 Model tests using 1/50 scaled models of a prototype were performed for three typical hull forms in the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Engineering’s (KRISO’s) large towing tank, with a wave generating system in order to validate the theoretical analysis…

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image credit: Creation Ministries International