For some of Africa’s poorest citizens, the arrival of a Mercy Ships vessel in port holds the promise of better times ahead. The charity, which delivers free medical and dental care from a converted ro-ro ferry, can offer a lifeline to those in desperate need of healthcare.

Like all organisations, the charity is looking to improve its ability to deliver services and has invested in the 36,600 GT Global Mercy. At a length of 174 metres and 28.6 metres in breadth, it will be the world’s largest purpose-built civilian hospital ship. Currently under construction in China, the ship is due to be delivered later this year before moving to Europe for outfitting with the aim of commencing service in the first half of 2021.

Since 2011, LR has supported Mercy Ships in the design and build of Global Mercy and will support the vessel throughout its life. The ship will have two hospital decks and be capable of carrying 500 passengers when sailing and 950 when in port. There will be a total of 641 beds in the 277 cabins.

A Mercy Ships worker and an African child smile widely.Mercy Ships, founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, has worked in more than 70 countries. It has provided services valued at more than $1.53 billion, with more than 2.71 million direct beneficiaries. The charity has performed more than 95,000 surgeries and trained over 40,800 local professionals, leaving a long-lasting impact.

At any given time during its 40-year-plus history, Mercy Ships has had between one and three ships in service. Currently, the Africa Mercy is the only active ship, but it represents greater capacity than all its previous hospital ships combined.

The charity shares LR’s sense of purpose and values of caring, sharing expertise and doing the right thing. We are proud to support its invaluable mission. To date, LR has provided several years of classification services to Mercy Ships free of charge.  Joep Bollerman, LR’s Passenger Ship Support Center Global Manager, has visited Mercy Ships’ offices in Lindale, Texas, on several occasions for meetings and to provide training. “I am always impressed by the passion and dedication of all involved with Mercy Ships,” he says, “and I am very proud of LR’s involvement with Mercy Ships.”

The charity’s mission resonated strongly with LR Senior Surveyor Nima Moin, who first volunteered with Mercy in 2017. He joined 40 other engineers from around the world to provide free technical support onboard the Africa Mercy hospital ship while she was in dry dock for maintenance. Nima helped repair the vessel’s machinery and equipment to ensure the vessel was safe to operate and looked after the installation of new hospital equipment and integration with the ship’s existing systems. Surveyors from LR’s Netherlands office inspected Africa Mercy and approved the ‘floating hospital’ for another year of vital service.

Last year, to celebrate 150 years in the region, the LR Netherlands team partnered with Mercy Ships to raise money for the charity’s Biomedical Capacity Building Program, which will support infrastructure and agriculture through partnerships with universities, hospitals and clinics. Approximately 60 LR employees donated between one and five days of annual leave to Mercy Ships, which raised €17,140 for the charity.

Ginger Garte, LR’s Americas Environmental and Sustainability Director, was invited onboard Africa Mercy last year for an opportunity to meet the crew. “I was very moved by the experience. It was amazing to witness 400 volunteers, working together with the same aim in service of others,” she says.

Ginger met with Emmanuel Essah, Biomedical Projects Manager at Mercy Ships. The money that Nima and the Netherlands team raised for capacity building projects will help to ensure that Mercy Ships’ technical knowledge and expertise have a practical legacy once the charity has left the region. This includes setting up local infrastructure and training for a dental school, hospital and clinics, as well as a center for medical healing and recovery.

Emmanuel Essah warmly welcomes LR’s support. “I would like to thank all the LR individuals that are supporting the work Mercy Ships is doing,” he says. “We are so grateful and very excited to see how your support is helping the countries Mercy Ships visit. Thank you for supporting us in changing the world one country at a time.”

Mercy Ships’ record-breaking chocolate ship.
Mercy Ships’ record-breaking chocolate ship

Last month in Rotterdam, Mercy Ships Holland broke the Guinness World Record for the largest chocolate bar ever made. The mammoth creation, produced by chocolatier Frits van Noppen, measured 26.8 metres long and 14.3 metres high and featured the image of the charity’s new hospital ship, Global Mercy. It weighed in at over 13,000 kilos and covered 383.4 m², more than double the current world record of 142.3 m². LR Senior Surveyor Nima Moin measured the record-breaking chocolate creation, which will raise money for the important work undertaken by Mercy Ships. The sale of parts of the giant chocolate bar has already raised more than €500,000 to help provide medical care for thousands of people in need.