MSC Group and Mercy Ships Sign Agreement to Build Brand-New Hospital Ship

MSC Group, the MSC Foundation, and Mercy Ships have signed an agreement to build a brand-new Africa-based hospital ship.

mercy ships hospital ship

MSC Group, MSC Foundation, and the charity Mercy Ships International have signed an agreement for the construction of a brand-new hospital ship that will deliver free surgery and training annually to thousands of people in Africa.

On April 8th, chairman of MSC Group and MSC Foundation Captain Gianluigi Aponte, MSC Group President and member of the MSC Foundation Board Diego Aponte, and Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens finalized an agreement to kickstart the new project with a donation from the MSC Foundation.

mercy ships
(Photo courtesy of Mercy Ships)

“I spent part of my childhood and early years in the shipping industry in the Horn of Africa, it is a region close to my heart. I saw firsthand the challenges faced by many local communities there and this shaped my conviction that improving the availability of healthcare would bring real and lasting impact for them,” said Captain Aponte, founder of the MSC Group.

“It has been extremely gratifying to work with Don and provide this crucial support through his unique organisation Mercy Ships, our partnership has reaped extraordinary results already and now we are on the verge of expanding their fleet to increase this support. I truly look forward to seeing this new ship set sail to help more communities across Africa.”

Since Mercy Ships was founded in 1978, the organization has provided over 117,000 transformational specialized surgical procedures. These surgeries include maxillofacial reconstructions, contracture release for severe burns, correction for orthopedic problems in children, cleft lip and palate repair, ophthalmology, and dental services.

mercy ships hospital ship
(Photo courtesy of MSC Group)

Mercy Ships, which is a non-governmental organization, is also committed to boosting the capacities of local healthcare systems through sustainably designed surgical education, training, and advocacy programs. It has provided training to over 54,300 local professionals in their areas of expertise.

Expanding its fleet with a new purpose-built hospital ship, designed to similar specifications as the Global Mercy with a focus on designated training spaces, will allow Mercy Ships to increase its capacity to collaborate with host nations in training and advocacy efforts.

According to West African College of Surgeons VP Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, his country of Sierra Leone is grappling with 91 percent unmet surgical needs. This demonstrates the need to accelerate access to surgical care and education in sub-Saharan Africa.

The investment of many around the world towards a fleet of hospital ships will be enhanced by the future of our new purpose-built vessel,” said Don Stephens. “The mission of Mercy Ships to bring Hope and Healing is only possible by the generosity of our partners, volunteer crew, and the provision of God. Today, I am grateful to MSC for their support.”

Operating hospital ships involves transporting large quantities of essential supplies across oceans and seas to continuously support surgical and training activities. MSC and Mercy Ships have been partners since 2011, with the MSC Group ensuring logistical support and container delivery of supplies to all ports of service.

mercy ships patient and medical provider
(Photo courtesy of MSC Group)

The infrastructure support and logistical expertise provided by its teams in Africa ranges from MSC’s local shipping agency and MSC and TiL terminals handling cargo to MSC and MEDLOG logistics, storage, and inland transportation services. MSC has also provided extensive technical advice and experience in preparation for the new vessel, working with Mercy Ships to develop a design that will improve efficiency for the organization’s needs.

The new ship will feature living spaces to accommodate about 600 crew members and guests on board. Its hospital will span two decks and 7,000 square meters (almost 23,000 square feet). It will include six operating rooms, a fully-equipped laboratory, and state-of-the-art training spaces such as a simulation lab. This makes it possible for Mercy Ships to strengthen local surgical systems during its time in port, typically a 10-months field service.

More About Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships is an international faith-based organization that has focused entirely on partnering with African nations for the past three decades. Each year, over 3,000 volunteer professionals from over 60 countries serve on board the world’s two largest non-governmental hospital ships, Africa Mercy and Global Mercy. Professionals such as surgeons, dentists, nurses, health trainers, cooks, and engineers dedicate their time and skills to accelerate access to safe surgical, obstetric, and anesthetic care.


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Sarah has been writing about the cruise industry since 2015, and in that time has taken a dozen cruises and counting. Her favorite onboard activities include trying the casual dining options, spending time in the spa’s thermal suite, and attending the love & marriage show. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @IAmSarahJaneB.
Sarah Bretz, Contributor
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MSC Group and Mercy Ships Sign Agreement to Build Brand-New Hospital Ship

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