Mercy Ships builds new hospital ship with MSC’s help

With the support of the MSC Foundation and the MSC Group, the aid organisation Mercy Ships International is building a new hospital ship.

The new hospital ship will be built according to the needs and experience of Mercy Ships. It will increase the range and thus the number of surgical operations and educational and training programs in sub-Saharan Africa once it is commissioned. This is made possible by an agreement with the MSC Group.

None other than company patriarch Gianluigi Aponte, Chairman of the MSC Group and the MSC Foundation, has now signed the contract, which marks the start of the new project and provides for a significant donation from the MSC Foundation. The amount was not disclosed.

Aponte has a “heart for the region” and for Mercy Ships

Gianluigi Aponte, MSC, Mercy Ships
Gianluigi Aponte, Founder and President of MSC (© MSC)

“I spent part of my childhood and early years in the shipping industry in the Horn of Africa, a region that is very close to my heart,” says Aponte, explaining his commitment. This has led him to believe that improving healthcare has a direct and lasting impact on people. “I am very much looking forward to this new ship setting sail to help even more people in Africa.”

Since Mercy Ships was founded in 1978, the organisation says it has performed more than 117,000 surgical procedures, primarily in medically underserved regions of the world. As a non-governmental organization, it is also committed to strengthening the capacities of local healthcare systems in Africa through sustainably designed surgical education and training programmes as well as partnerships with authorities and local organisations. Since the start of the program, more than 54,300 local professionals have been trained in their specialist areas.

The addition of a new, purpose-built hospital ship to the fleet will make it possible to improve care in and cooperation with the host countries.

New building to be modelled on the “Global Mercy”

The new ship will be ordered according to similar specifications as the “Global Mercy“. The world’s largest hospital ship was developed and built by Stena RoRo. It is 174 m long, 28.6 m wide and has six operating theatres, 200 hospital beds, a laboratory, an infirmary and an eye and dental clinic.

Mery Ships, MSC, Neubau, Schiff, Global Mercy
Yeiddy Ferreira, Hand Therapist, at work with a plastics patient (© Mercy Ships)

In total, the “Global Mercy” can accommodate 950 people, including 641 crew members. The total budget, from planning and construction to outfitting, the transfer of the ship to Africa and welcoming the first patient on board, was reported to be around €200m.

MSC and Mercy Ships have been partners since 2011, with the MSC Group providing logistical support and container delivery of relief supplies to all ports of call. In addition, MSC has provided extensive technical advice in preparation for the construction of the new vessel and worked with Mercy Ships to develop a design that improves efficiency with the organisation’s needs in mind.

Mercy Ships plans 7,000 m² floating clinic

The new ship will have accommodation for around 600 crew and guests on board. The hospital will span two decks and 7,000 square meters and will have six operating rooms, a fully equipped laboratory and state-of-the-art training rooms. This will allow Mercy Ships to support local surgical services during a ten-month relief mission in port.

No details of the shipyard were initially given. The “Global Mercy”, which is considered to be the largest newly built civilian hospital ship in the world, was built in China at the Tianjin Xingang shipyard and entered service three years ago.

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Caption: Gianluigi Aponte, Founder and President of MSC (© MSC)