The Suez Canal has donated free passage to the world’s newest hospital ship, Mercy Ships’ Global Mercy. The vessel is currently on the final leg of its voyage to the port of Antwerp, where it will remain until early next year while it is fitted out and crewed.
According to Mercy Ships, the Senegalese and Egyptian governments collaborated to enable the ship to transit the canal free of charge. The non-profit organization estimates that the cost savings will translate into thousands of lives saved in Africa in the long run.
“At the initiative of Senegal’s President Macky Sall, and with the active participation of his ambassador in Brussels, the President and the Egyptian authorities have agreed to guide the Global Mercy through the Suez Canal free of charge and at no cost to the charity,” said Bert van Dijk, international board member and chairman of Mercy Ships Belgium. “This is a wonderful example of a unique collaboration between two heads of state to support Mercy Ships and contribute to the improvement of healthcare in Africa.”
The Port of Antwerp is collaborating with the non-profit organization by offering free berthing and support. Domestic and foreign volunteers will assemble and finish the Global Mercy. This includes the installation of medical equipment and computer systems, as well as supplying and crewing the ship for its first mission.
“This project highlights the collaboration between the Port of Antwerp and Mercy Ships,” said Annick De Ridder, chairwoman of the Port and councilor of Antwerp. “Social engagement in the port community is very high, so we are not alone in our support. Dozens of companies in our port already support Mercy Ships structurally and will do the same in equipping the Global Mercy.”
The Global Mercy will be the “sister ship” to the existing hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. Mercy Ships expects to more than double the impact of its work with the new ship, both with life-changing operations and with the education and training of local caregivers in Africa’s poorest countries.
During its missions, the Global Mercy can accommodate 950 people, including 641 crew members, who are volunteers from around the world. In addition to the hospital, the ship has first-class training facilities with which Mercy Ships contributes to the sustainable development of local medical care in many countries.
The Global Mercy is a unique ship in the passenger class: 174 meters in length, 28.6 meters in beam and a gross tonnage of 37,000. It has 6 operating rooms, 200 beds, a laboratory, general outpatient, ophthalmological and dental clinics. The total area of the hospital department is 7,000 m².
In the spring of 2022, Mercy Ships plans to open the ship to the public for guided tours in Rotterdam (The Netherlands), before starting active service with the Global Mercy in Dakar (Senegal), the first of many new missions over the next 50 years.