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 Post subject: The Navy's "Noah's Ark"
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:01 am 
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Location: West Yorkshire

From the Northern Star (Lismore, NSW), Wednesday 13 March 1946 (see http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/99017475?searchTerm=warrenpoint&searchLimits=)


The story of how a child playing with a toy Noah's Ark on the hearthrug at home gave Britain one of its best war-winning ideas, is told by a London writer - how this ark became, within a few months, the navy's Noah's Ark. It developed into a floating base for supply on the wide stretches of the Pacific.

Back to his home one night by bus went one of the officials of Combined Operations. He had his problem to worry him: For the D-Day invasion Britain was near enough to Hitler's Continental fortress to act as a supply base. Naval craft ferried equipment across the Channel.

Japan, with the storming of the Mikado's island fortress, was more tricky. The supplying of our first wave invasion troops and the carriage of the second and third waves had to be done by smallish landing craft. Bases were needed that could be moored in the shallow water offshore.

The Combined Operations man sat in his armchair thinking while his children played.

Suddenly he sat bolt upright. Then he picked up a toy Noah's Ark. This was his answer-a floating hostel built into a boat.

Back he went to work next day and Operation "Ark" was planned [by] Combined Operations, the Civil Engineer-in-Chief and the Director of Naval Construction.

Building began in basins at Belfast, Warrenpoint (Co. Down), and in England and Scotland of reinforced concrete "arks" on Mulberry lines.

Secrecy and Speed

Pledged to secrecy, squads of civilian workers started the job, due to be completed in January or February. Not even they were told what the arks were for, nor that the Navy would tow them to the Far East, a long job saved by the Mikado's surrender.

Built of reinforced vibrated concrete, the Noah's Arks had three decks, were shaped like a ship, and had ends that sloped upwards in the same fashion as an ark. They could produce steam, but had no engine for driving purposes. Cooking facilities, a cafeteria, refrigeration, and sleeping accommodation for 500 officers and men were provided aboard, while another 500 men could be fed over the side. They were 312 feet long and had a displacement of 6,000 tons with shallow draught.

All building upon them has now ceased, and the Admiralty is deciding their future. One proposal is that they be completed with flat superstructures and used as floating aerodromes in the Atlantic.

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