New Vessel For Mercy Ships

New Vessel For Mercy Ships

By

Shawn J. Dake

Rendering of new Mercy Ship newbuild
Rendering of new Mercy Ship newbuild

Mercy Ships, which has operated mainly second-hand passenger vessels since their first civilian hospital ship put to sea in 1982, is set to expand and modernize their fleet. They recently signed a contract with China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) for a brand new 36,600 gross registered ton hospital ship to be built at the Tianjin Xingang Shipbuilding Heavy Industry, Ltd. shipyard in China. Tentatively named ATLANTIC MERCY, the vessel will be certified as a passenger ship for long international voyages and will be registered under the flag of Malta with Lloyd’s Register classification. The main dimensions are 571 feet (174 meters) in overall length and 93.8 feet (28.6 meters) in breadth. The design service speed will be 12.0 knots. The vessel will have two hospital decks and can carry 500 persons on board while at sea, increasing to a capacity of 950 persons when in port. There will be a total of 641 beds in the 277 cabins. The vessel will even house a school for children of the staff. The new hospital ship will be designed by the Finnish firm Deltamarin which developed the concept design of the vessel together with Stena RoRo, who will manage the actual construction work. The delivery of the ship is planned for July, 2017.

Impression of completed as yet unnamed ATLANTIC MERCY, courtesy Mercy Ships
Impression of completed as yet unnamed ATLANTIC MERCY, courtesy Mercy Ships

Donald K. Stephens, President and Founder of Mercy Ships, together with Jim Paterson, Senior Vice-President of Mercy Ships Marine Operations, signed the contracts on December 19, 2013 with Mr. Dong Qiang, Vice-President of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. When completed, the all-white vessel will be the world’s largest civilian hospital ship. Following the signing Don Stephens said, “We are thrilled to formally secure this important milestone for a project we have worked on quietly for quite some time. Our goal with this second Mercy Ship is to more than double the hope and healing through life-changing surgeries provided to those with little access to specialized healthcare and to increase the partnership of training and educational support of health professionals within the developing nations our ships will continue to serve.” Since their founding in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, impacting more than 2.42 million direct beneficiaries. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists make up the volunteer crew onboard the ship, donating their time and skills to the effort. Each year Mercy Ships engages more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 45 nations.

AFRICA MERCY on sea trial off Tyne, March 28, 2007. Photo courtesy Shawn Dake
AFRICA MERCY on sea trial off Tyne, March 28, 2007. Photo courtesy Shawn Dake

The group currently operates the 16,572 gross ton AFRICA MERCY built in 1980 as the Danish rail ferry DRONNING INGRID and briefly shortened to just INGRID. That ship is 499 feet long with a beam of 78 feet and has a capacity of 474 passengers. It too, is classed as a passenger ship and currently is the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world. Over the years, Mercy Ships has fulfilled their mission beginning with the former Lloyd Triestino liner VICTORIA which was renamed the ANASTASIS after the purchase was finalized on October 5, 1978. It faithfully served until July, 2007 when it was sent to be scrapped on the beach of Alang, India. Subsequent ships included the small 1,048 gross ton ISLAND MERCY (ex PETITE FORTE, GOOD SAMARITAN), once a Canadian National Railways coastal ship that served Mercy Ships under all three names from 1983 until 2001, and the even smaller PACIFIC RUBY (ex FRANCOYSE DE GRACE, OTAMAK), acquired in 1990, which was subsequently renamed SOUTHERN CLOUD when sold to a private owner in 2002. Their other well-known passenger ship was the former Norwegian coastal liner POLARLYS, built for the Bergen Line in 1952. In 1994 it was renamed CARIBBEAN MERCY. It sailed for 12 years as a Mercy Ship until 2006 when it was sold to a family foundation and renamed HOPE II. It was scrapped at Colon, Panama during 2010. With the addition of the ATLANTIC MERCY, together with the AFRICA MERCY, the two-ship fleet will be better suited to reaching many more people in need not only in Africa and the Atlantic basin, but around the globe.

To donate or volunteer, please visit www.mercyships.org/home/

Thanks to Martin Cox and Diane Rickard.

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake
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