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Hospital ship charity Mercy Ships looks to the shipping community again as its first-ever purpose-built newbuilding is fitted out in Antwerp

The global shipping and trading community is being asked to join forces again on 10 November to raise vital funds for the hospital ship charity Mercy Ships.

Charterers, shipbrokers, agents, owners and operators will participate in the annual Cargo Day, which since 2016 has raised almost $4m.

The move comes as the charity’s first purpose-built newbuilding, the 37,000-gt Global Mercy, is undergoing outfitting at the Port of Antwerp.

When the hospital ship enters service next year, Mercy Ships will more than double its impact in providing free medical care for some of the world’s poorest people in Africa.

The capital cost of the newbuilding was raised largely from private and corporate donors, but millions of dollars are needed each year to provide medical services and operate the new ship as well as provide training support for African medical professionals.

The new ship will have six operating theatres, six hospital wards, radiology, screening, rehab and outpatient care plus training facilities and will operate alongside Mercy Ships’ current vessel, the 16,572-gt the converted rail ferry Africa Mercy.

Over the last 18 months, the shipping industry has faced tough challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic, but recent months have seen some sectors, especially dry bulk, enjoying stronger returns. Mercy Ships hopes this optimism can be reflected in a broader range of companies participating in Cargo Day.

Since its launch five years ago, Cargo Day has enjoyed support especially from charterers, brokers and owners working with tankers.

Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has been active in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at over $1.7bn and directly benefitting more than 2.8m people.

Mercy Ships global association executive director Bryce Wagner said Mercy Ships would be unable to finance the thousands of surgeries and extensive training it performs without initiatives like Cargo Day and its partners in the shipping industry.

The Africa Mercy draws volunteers from over 60 nations—an average of more than 1,200 each year including surgeons, nurses, dentists, healthcare trainers and teachers plus seafarers.

Each year some 16.9m people die due to lack of access to surgical care, with a large percentage of those deaths in Africa’s developing nations where fragile healthcare systems cannot support the overwhelming need for safe, surgical procedures.

Ludvig Mandius, Geneva-based chartering manager for commodity trader Trafigura, said a visit to the Africa Mercy was “an amazing trip, an experience I will cherish forever”.

“The whole operation is just an amazing thing,” Mandius said.

How the Mercy Ships Cargo Day works

Cargo Day is scheduled for November 10. On that date and in the following weeks charterers give cargoes (Mercy Cargoes) to participating shipbrokers who find vessels to carry the shipments of oil, iron ore, coal, containers, and other cargoes.

These brokers, port agents and inspection companies then contribute 50% of their commission to Mercy Ships. Pledges of money and address commissions are also handsomely received.


October 25, 2021 By Paul Berrill


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