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World’s Largest Civilian Hospital Ship Transits Suez Canal

mercy ships

Published Sep 2, 2021 1:27 AM by The Maritime Executive

As the International Day of Charity (Sunday, September 5, 2021) draws closer, Mercy Ships has announced that the Global Mercy completed its journey through the Suez Canal and the ship is headed for a short courtesy visit in Malta. The Global Mercy, the newest hospital ship of Mercy Ships, is in the last leg of the journey to the Port of Antwerp, where it will be further equipped and crewed.  The ship is scheduled to arrive mid-September in Belgium and remain until early next year.

Unique international and national cooperation

The Senegalese and Egyptian governments facilitated the passage of the Global Mercy through the Suez Canal, so that the ship could pass through free of charge. This unique gesture allows Mercy Ships to save many thousands of extra lives in Africa in the long run.

Bert van Dijk, international board member and president of Mercy Ships Belgium, is enthusiastic and grateful for the tremendous cooperation and support for this unique project, "On the initiative of and led by President Macky Sall of Senegal together with an active involvement of his ambassador in Brussels, the President and the authorities of Egypt have agreed to guide the Global Mercy through the Suez Canal free of charge and without any cost to the charity. This is a wonderful example of a unique collaboration between two heads of state to support Mercy Ships and contribute to the improvement of healthcare in Africa.”

President Macky Sall of Senegal says, “I have seen and experienced with my own eyes that Mercy Ships is a wonderful organization that brings hope and healing to many African countries. We will welcome the Global Mercy with open arms in the spring of 2022 and give our full support at the start of its first mission in Africa. We are very grateful for the indispensable support of so many to actually help my country and my people."

The Port of Antwerp has made the arrival of the Global Mercy in Antwerp possible by offering a free berth and support. Volunteers from home and abroad will set up and finish the Global Mercy, the largest private hospital ship in the world. This includes the installation of medical equipment and IT systems, as well as the supply and crewing of the ship for its first mission.

"This unique project is a highlight in the collaboration between Port of Antwerp and Mercy Ships. The social commitment in the port community is very high, so we are not alone in our support. Dozens of companies in our port already support Mercy Ships structurally and will do the same in the equipping of the Global Mercy. Mercy Ships and the wonderful work they do are close to the heart of the Port of Antwerp," says Annick De Ridder, chairman of the Port and Alderman of Antwerp.

Doubling of impact in Africa

The Global Mercy will be the 'partner ship' of the current hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. Mercy Ships expects to more than double the impact of its work with the new vessel, both with life-changing operations and with education and training of local caregivers in the poorest countries in Africa.

During its missions, the Global Mercy can accommodate 950 people, including 641 crew members, who consist of volunteers from all over the world. In addition to the hospital, the ship also has first-class training facilities with which Mercy Ships contributes to the sustainable development of local medical care in many countries.

Largest private hospital ship in the world

The Global Mercy is a unique ship in the passenger class: 174 meters long, 28.6 meters wide and a gross tonnage of 37,000. It has 6 operating rooms, 200 beds, a laboratory, general outpatient clinics and eye and dental clinics. The total area of the hospital department is 7,000 m².  

In the spring of 2022, Mercy Ships plans to open the ship to the public for tours in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, before beginning active service with the Global Mercy in Dakar (Senegal), the first of many new missions in the next 50 years.

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