Largest private hospital ship in the world will dock in Antwerp this weekend
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Largest private hospital ship in the world will dock in Antwerp this weekend

Photo from Mercy Ships

The world’s largest private hospital ship, Global Mercy, will be arriving in the port of Antwerp this Sunday, 12 September.

The ship passed through the Suez Canal without issue after leaving the shipyard in China at the end of July, having successfully completed mandatory sea trials, according to a press release from the port.

The ship wasn’t required to pay for its passage through the canal as a token of gratitude for the help the floating hospital will bring to the African continent next year.

“I have seen and experienced with my own eyes that Mercy Ships is a wonderful organisation that brings hope and healing to many African countries,” said President Macky Sall of Senegal, who together with the Egyptian government facilitated the passage through the Suez Canal.

“We will welcome Global Mercy with open arms in the spring of 2022 and give our full support as she embarks on her first mission in Africa. We are very grateful for the indispensable support of so many to truly help my country and my people.”

Currently in Malta, the ship will be further outfitted and finished once it arrives here in Belgium, where it will stay from September 2021 to February 2022 while work is completed.

Port of Antwerp made Global Mercy’s arrival in Antwerp possible by offering free berth and support.

Volunteers from Belgium and abroad will furnish the ship and install medical equipment and IT systems, in addition to supplying the ship for its first mission.

“This unique project is a highlight in the collaboration between Port of Antwerp and Mercy Ships. As a Port Authority we are not alone in our support, the social commitment in the port community is very high,” said port alderman Annick De Ridder.

“Dozens of companies in our port already support Mercy Ships on a structural basis and will do so again when the Global Mercy is set up. Mercy Ships and the wonderful work they do are right at the heart of the port of Antwerp.”

The Global Mercy will be the ‘partner ship’ of the existing hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.

With this new ship, Mercy Ships expects to more than double the impact of its work, both with life-changing operations and with the education and training of local care providers in the poorest countries in Africa.

During its missions, Global Mercy will accommodate as many as 950 people, including 641 crew members from surgeons and nurses to support staff and maritime volunteers from around the world.

In addition to the hospital, the ship also features first-class training facilities with which Mercy Ships contributes to the sustainable development of local medical care in many countries.

Photo from Mercy Ships

At 174 metres long, 28.6 metres wide and a gross tonnage of 37,000, Global Mercy is a unique ship in the passenger class.

It has six operating theatres, 200 beds, a laboratory, general polyclinics and eye and dental clinics.

The total area of the hospital department is 7,000 m².

The ship’s first port of call will be in Dakar, Senegal, in the spring of 2022.

Mercy Ships mission is to make medical and surgical care accessible to the poorest people of the world, the organisation says.

More than 1,000 professional volunteers work for free every year and pay their own travel and accommodation expenses.

With the launch of the Global Mercy, the organisation said, this number will eventually rise to approximately 3,000.

The organisation has put out a call for volunteers to help with the finishing touches being done to the ship’s interior while in Antwerp.

They ask that any interested candidates apply online or via an email to info@mercyships.be.

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