Aug 30, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Mystery of Noah's Ark: Why Has the U.S. Government Taken Such an Interest in it?

For decades, various elements of the U.S. Government have taken a deep interest in the matter of the legendary Noah's Ark. We know that because many papers and files on the Ark have now been declassified thanks to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. With that said, let's look at what these intriguing pages tell us. From the CIA, there is this: "Noah's Ark 1974 - 1982. On 13 May 1974, DCI Colby sent a letter to the DS&T, Sayre Stevens, asking if the Agency had any evidence of Noah's Ark on Mt. Ararat. Mr. Colby said that Lieutenant Colonel Walter Brown of the US Air Force Academy had asked ‘whether it would be appropriate or possible to exploit satellite photography to examine the glacier systems there to see whether any evidence of the Ark could be found.’ On 21 May, the Center responded that no evidence of the Ark could be discerned on U-2 photography acquired on 10 September 1957 or on any satellite imagery available at the Center." That's all very intriguing. But, precisely why so many people in government took such a deep interest in the Ark decades ago is something we don't really know. Now, we turn specifically to the CIA. The CIA wrote in a memo: 

"On 6 August 1974, Congressman Bob Wilson asked the Agency whether any aerial photos of Mt. Ararat could be released to a friend of his, Dr. John Morris, son of Dr. Henry M. Morris, the head of the Institution of Creation Research of San Diego, California. Mr. Hicks stated in a letter to the Agency legislative liaison staff that several U-2.photos dated 1957 were available but were still classified 'Confidential.' The younger Dr. Morris wrote to the Agency later requesting the photos. His request was denied by Angus Theurmer, the Agency's press spokesman who stated “We have looked into this matter in some detail and we regret that we are unable to provide any information.' In September/October 1974, Admiral Showers of the Intelligence Community Staff, in response to a query from Lieutenant Commander Lonnie McClung, asked about the availability of intelligence information concerning the location of Noah's Ark. He was told that a search had been made of aerial photography with negative results." There was more to come. Once again the information comes from within government:

(U.S. Department of Defense) This photo was taken in 1949 by an employee of the U.S. Government. It is in the public domain.

Does it show the remains of Noah's Ark?

"On 30 January 1975, Dr. John Morris again wrote Congressman Bob Wilson noting that aerial photos “were taken in August 1974, as a result of my request. They were not to be classified, but have been classified since and are not available.” Congressman Wilson again contacted the Agency with the request. On 27 February 1975, Mr. Hicks again denied the request. On 11 March 1975, Dr. Morris was notified that the photography of Mt. Ararat was classified and, therefore, could not be provided. An additional request made through Dr. Charles Willis of Fresno, California to Mr. Arthur C. Lundahl, retired Director NPIC on 5 March 1975 was also denied on 31 March 1975. On 3 April 1975, NPIC Section Chief [deleted] sent a memo to the Chief, IEG, detailing the efforts of Messrs. [Deleted] and [deleted] who had searched unsuccessfully all available U-2 and satellite imagery for possible evidence of Noah's Ark. This search had been prompted by the visit to the Center, on 14 March 1975, of Captain Howard Schue of the IC Staff with a ground photo “showing a long range view of the purported Ark.” The [deleted] Division of NPIC was tasked to determine if the Ark's features in the photo had been altered; tests failed to identify any manipulation. Attempts to compare the ground photo with satellite imagery for identification and location purposes also proved negative."

The government reports get more intriguing: "From 27 March to 5 April 1975, a French archeological explorer, Fernand Navarra was at Iverson Mall in Washington, D.C. publicizing his book Noah's Ark: I Touched It. As part of the sales pitch for the book, there was a display which included a supposed wood fragment of the Ark. Several NPIC analysts concerned with the Ark problem visited the display but found nothing that would help their search efforts. On 10 April 1975, Colonel Paul Tanota and Captain Howard Schue, of the IC Staff visited NPIC to discuss Mt. Ararat and to see the August 1974 aerial photography of the mountain. At the request of Captain Schue, a print of Mt. Ararat showing the 13,000 and 14,000 foot elevations was provided. On 5 July, 1975 a book entitled The Ark of Ararat by Thomas Nelson was released. Mr. Nelson maintained that the CIA had photos of Ararat and that they had been analyzed in the search for the Ark. On 12 October 1975, Tom Crotser from a group known as The Holy Ground Mission of Frankston; Texas showed a ground photo supposedly of the Ark taken during their 1974 expedition to Mt. Ararat. Sometime in 1977, Bill Chaney Speed of Search Foundation, Inc. requested the aerial photos of Mt. Ararat. His request also was denied. Now, we turn to a famous sU.S. senator.

Senator Barry Goldwater wrote DCI Turner on 1 September 1978, “You may think this is a screwball request and it may be, but I would like to know if you can do anything about it.” The letter went on to ask if satellite photography could be searched “to determine whether or not something in the way of an archeological find might be located near or on top of the Mount.” Goldwater explained that a letter he had received had come “from a man in whom I have great confidence, who certainly is no nut, who knows Turkey rather well but who feels that there is reason to believe the Ark may be resting at or near the top of the mount. I assure that I will keep this at any classification you want it kept and if you desire me to go to the devil, I know the way.” DCI Turner replied “we have been requested on several occasions if we could determine whether there was remains of the Ark on Mt. Ararat. We have, as a result, carefully reviewed the photography of the area but have not found any evidence of the Ark.”

(Nick Redfern) How many government files are there on Noah's Ark?

Then, on 27 May 1981, [deleted] of the Center received a telephone call from Air Force Talent Control Officer, Major Ray Abel, requesting information on Noah's Ark. Major Abel said he had received a request from General Lew Allen, Air Force Chief of Stall, who, in turn, was answering a, requirement from Congressman Bill Archer of Texas. Congressman Archer had indicated that some of his constituents from Houston, Texas were going on an expedition to Mt. Ararat and would like to have as much information as possible. [Deleted] told Major Abel that NPIC had conducted a study of Mt. Ararat in the 1970s and had found no evidence of the Ark. In February 1982, former Astronaut James B. Irwin of the High Flight Foundation, a Christian group in Colorado Springs, Colorado, called former NPIC official Dino A. Brugioni, at his home and asked about the aerial photos of Mount Ararat. Irwin was informed that no evidence of the Ark had ever been seen on aerial photography."

There is strong evidence that suggest the U.S. Government knows far more about Noah’s Ark than it would prefer us to think. On June 17, 1949, a U.S. Air Force Europe (USAFE) aircraft taking part in a classified mission that included securing aerial imagery of the 16,945-foot-high Mt. Ararat, Turkey, inadvertently stumbled across what might have been the remains of the mighty Ark of Noah as described in the Bible. As the aircraft reached a height of around fifteen thousand feet and a distance of approximately one mile from the harsh, frozen mountain, its cameras captured several intriguing images of a large structure – an incredible five hundred feet in length – that protruded from an ice cap located at the southwest edge of Ararat’s west-facing mountain. The crew quickly swung the aircraft around and headed to the north of the mountain and continued to take photographs. Astonishingly, these revealed, from a distance of two miles, the existence of another large, unidentified structure on the western plateau, and three symmetrical, but badly damaged protrusions that pointed skyward out of what looked like a curiously wing-shaped section of the structure. 

Needless to say, the photographs were carefully and quietly processed and duly classified. And thus was born the legend of the Ararat Anomaly – as it is officially known throughout the U.S. Intelligence community in general and to the CIA in particular. A whole host of claims, counterclaims and assertions regarding the Ararat Anomaly have surfaced both privately and publicly. Many of these maintain that the CIA and a number of other official bodies within the U.S. Government, intelligence community and military have collated a wealth of data and imagery on the Anomaly that are exempt from public disclosure. In addition, sources tell of Indiana Jones-style, Government-funded expeditions to Turkey to try and locate the remains of the Ark. Others maintain that remnants of the Anomaly have been found and secretly spirited away to classified military and governmental installations and institutions in the United States. There is talk of intimidation by Men in Black-style characters warning those with knowledge of the Anomaly to remain silent. And there is even the highly controversial claim that the Ark represents the remains of a crashed UFO that impacted on Mount Ararat thousands of years ago and that has been the subject of a specific, clandestine investigation by elements of the U.S. Air Force. 

According to the Bible: “God said unto Noah…Make thee an ark of gopher wood…And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.” A cubit is approximately twenty inches in length – which would make the Ark five-hundred feet long, eighty-three feet wide, and fifty-feet high. Moreover, it is alleged that the Ark was strong enough to withstand the catastrophic flood that allegedly encompassed the globe and lasted for forty turbulent days. So the story goes, when the flood waters began to recede, the Ark settled on its final resting place: the permanently snow-capped Mt. Ararat. Needless to say, if the U.S. Intelligence community has located the remains (or the suspected remains) of such an impressive vessel, it would undoubtedly be the archaeological discovery of the century. Certainly, there is no shortage of accounts positing a direct link between the Anomaly, Noah’s Ark, and the secret world of government, military, and intelligence officials. And those accounts suggest that at the heart of the puzzle lies something of such profound importance that it may shake our belief systems concerning the Ark to their very core. 

Conspiracies, cover-ups, biblical mysteries, highly advanced technology in the hands of the ancients, secret histories, and much more are all part and parcel of the mystery of the Ararat Anomaly. In 1952, William Todd, a photographer’s mate chief with the U.S. Navy, viewed an object “of huge size” that appeared to be a “rectangular, slate-colored boat,” while flying near the summit of Mt. Ararat. And in 1955, a French explorer, Fernand Navarra, located a five-foot-long piece of ancient, carved wood high on Mt. Ararat, just several hundred meters from the site shown in the historic photographs taken in 1949. According to Gregor Schwinghammer, formerly of the U.S. Air Force’s 428th Tactical Flight Squadron based in Adana, Turkey, he saw the Ararat Anomaly as he was flying near the mountain in an F-100 aircraft in the late 1950s. Moreover, he said that it looked like “an enormous boxcar” lying in a gully high up on Mount Ararat, and added that photographs had been taken of the structure by U-2 spy-plane pilots. He further revealed that the object seemed to be “banked” – something that indicated it had become caught there long ago as it slid down the mountainside. 

Schwinghammer says: “I think most of the time it is covered with ice and snow and that we just saw it at a time when part of it was protruding from the snow. I know that I saw a rectangular structure that looked like a ship. It was at a period in time or history and we were there at that time. Other pilots in the squadron remember having taken parts in flights over Ararat or having heard that other pilots had seen a ship-like object on the mountain.” So, we get a lot of information and intrigue on Noah's Ark, but we don't get much that tells us why the U.S. government is so intrigued with the whole riddle.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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