Wednesday 4 November is focus of efforts to raise funds this month for Africa hospital ships charity taking delivery of its first ever purpose-built newbuilding, Global Mercy

Cargo Day is here. Wednesday 4 November is the focal point of a push over the next few weeks to raise funds for the Mercy Ships charity which takes hospital ships to Africa to provide surgical care that thousands would otherwise never receive.

Last year a record $1.3m was raised, and efforts are afoot to try and match that result, despite the difficulties caused by coronavirus and now poor shipping markets, as the charity takes delivery of its first ever purpose-built vessel, the 37,000-gt newbuilding Global Mercy.

It will cost about $20m per year to pay the full medical and maritime operating costs of each of the two vessels that Mercy Ships will be able to deploy after the Global Mercy joins a refurbished 16,000-gt Africa Mercy (built 1980).

Tanker brokers have led the way in donating 50% of commissions on cargo fixtures with shipowners and charterers donating money, or pushing Mercy Cargoes towards participating brokers and matching amounts being pledged. More than $3m has been raised since the Cargo Day was inaugurated in 2016.

Prize winner

Eastern Pacific Shipping, which in 2019 won an award for making the highest donation, will this year donate S$6 ($4.42) for every kilometer walked, run or cycled by its employees at sea or on shore on 11 December 2020 until they reach 40,075km – the distance of the earth’s circumference.

The $176,000 raised will be shared equally between seven charities the company supports, including Mercy Ships, and it is inviting its corporate sponsors to contribute to one, some, or all of the charities.

Fearntank, director, global head of tankers Kris Lossius Ellefsen told TradeWinds it had been a slow start but that the broker, which has been involved since the start of Cargo Day, believes there will be a broader participating base this year than last which he hopes can offset poor current tanker markets meaning lower commissions and so reduced contributions.

BRS tanker vice president Tim Webb said that more than 60 companies have signed up and help raised more than $100,000 by Tuesday 3 November, one day ahead of the official start of Cargo Day.

“We hope we can get more than 100 participating companies – there were 80 in 2019 – which in itself would be a success,” Webb said.

Challenges

Singapore-based chartering manager for oil trader Vitol Jonathan Hudson echoed broker comments in the Lion City that low tanker rates and the inability to make personal involvement due to lockdowns mean this year will be more challenging than 2019.

But Hudson added: “That being said there are a lot of participants involved and I am already hearing fixtures being put forward prior to the actual day itself. I would like to think these goodwill pledges may last a period of time after 4 November to give the event a much needed helping hand for such a great cause.”

Managing director of Swiss tanker chartering company Nyala Shipping, Rolland Gilles said that in these difficult times: “It is more important than ever to carry on supporting those who need help. We shall show again our commitment: People matter.”

In the US, Stena Bulk head of crude and fuel JR Gardner reiterated the difficulty of not being able to bring people together to agree to Mercy Cargoes, adding that the presidential election was also taking focus away, but said: “Everybody we have talked to, the response is great.”

Virtual event

Prizes awarded last year to the most successful contributors had to be delivered virtually rather than at the usual Geneva event.

Mercy Ships hopes to organise the next Cargo Day Gala in Geneva in June 2021 to thank all participating companies and award prizes to the companies most participate at the Cargo Day.

Nobody knows whether it will be possible to hold the event again in 2021, but it is certain that the medical care given by Mercy Ships will be more important than ever.

Lukoil-Litasco was awarded best charterer last year, while ST Shipping won an honorary prize for giving all its address commission on Mercy Cargoes to match that given by its brokers. BRS was the broker that raised the highest funds.

November 4th, 2020 by Paul Berrill

www.tradewinds.com

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