Construction of what has been described as the world’s largest civilian/NGO hospital ship – the Global Mercy– is making progress and is nearing completion in China. Mercy Ships, a faith-based global organization powered by charitable donors and volunteers, has been providing world-class surgical care to those in need for more than 40 years, free of charge, ordered the vessel.
“The Global Mercy will be a true modern marvel— a fully custom-built hospital ship with customized instruments, state-of-the-art technology and highly trained talent of a modern hospital,” said Rosa Whitaker, president of Mercy Ships. “It also represents a unique call-to-action for anyone called to serve, and it presents the opportunity for people to use their skill set to positively impact global healthcare.”
Tailored for unique use
Stena RoRo has been responsible for the design, the contracting and the construction oversight of the complex vessel. In addition to the Chinese shipyard the project includes several European, American and Asian subcontractors.
“We have applied one of our concepts on a ship from the RoPax-class, which are passenger and freighter vessels for international voyages, and modified her into a pure passenger ship with hospital capabilities,” says Per Westling, CEO of Stena RoRo AB. “Instead of a car deck, we’ve built operating rooms and hospital wards. The ship will have space for about 950 persons with everything needed for both patients and those who work on board, including grade schools and nursery schools for the children of staff.”
Hospital operations place large and specific requirements, which have affected both the hull design and the layout of the interior. In addition, the ventilation system has been especially adapted and focus has been placed on minimizing vibration and noise. The ship is equipped with large cranes in order to be able to take on containers with provisions, vehicles and other equipment as the ship is to be used for long periods in port.
Answering overwelming needs
According to the Lancet Global Surgery 2030 Report, an estimated number of 16.9 million people die yearly due to lack of access to surgical care. Over 93 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to safe and timely surgery. As COVID-19 threatens the stability of already fragile healthcare systems globally, the need to provide basic life-saving care is greater than ever, especially in low-to-middle income countries. The Global Mercy will deliver a safe and clean environment to various African nations, providing help and resources from some of the most well-trained physicians in the world. Over the vessel’s 50 year expected lifespan, it is estimated that more than 150,000 lives will be changed onboard through surgery alone.
In addition to providing surgery, the Global Mercy will be outfitted with state-of-the-art training spaces including a simulation lab with virtual and augmented reality, mannequins and other training tools and simulated post-op care space, which allow trainers to simulate local conditions and limitations in order to teach best practices in low-resource environments.
The 174-meter, 37,000-ton ship will have six operating rooms and house over 600 volunteers from around the globe representing many disciplines including surgeons, maritime crew, cooks, teachers, electricians, the host staff and more. The ship will also feature a 682-seat auditorium, student academy, gymnasium, pool, café, shop and library – all of which have been designed to accommodate up to 950 crew onboard when docked in port.
After completion of the ship in the first quarter of 2021, followed by an equipping phase in the Philippines, Mercy Ships expects the Global Mercy to arrive at a port in Africa for its first mission in the latter part of 2021. Several hundred volunteers from all over the world will be involved, who make it all possible through the donation of their time and skills.
About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships use hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.7 billion and directly benefitting more than 2.8 million people. Our ships are crewed by volunteers from over 50 nations, with an average of over 2000 volunteers each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills. With 16 national offices and an Africa Bureau, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations.