Mercy Ships announced that its newly built hospital ship Global Mercy has completed sea trials leading up to delivery, equipping, maiden voyage and launch into service to sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.

The first-of-its-kind 174-meter vessel, designed by Finnish naval architect Deltamarin and built at the Tianjin Xingang Shipyard in China, is the world’s largest purpose-built civilian hospital ship. It has a beam of 28.6 meters, with a design draft of 6.15 meters and gross tonnage of 37,000.

The sea trials, designed to test the vessel during extended sailing time to ensure that all systems are fully operational and in line with strict standards and specifications, included engine performance and fuel consumption, navigation and radio equipment, emergency systems, speed tests, maneuverability, engine and thruster tests as well as safety evaluations. The vessel has a service speed of 12 knots.

“These deep-water trials represent a critical checklist before delivery of our new purpose-built ship to become the platform for service it is designed to be. Trials systematically test operational aspects by putting the vessel through paces for an extended period at sea. I am pleased to say that the Global Mercy successfully passed every test,” said Jim Paterson, marine executive consultant for Mercy Ships. “We are then left with some finishing touches in the interior, particularly the hospital area before we take delivery.”

Robert Corley, Mercy Ships chief operations officer, confirmed that after the charity takes final delivery of the vessel, the ship will make its maiden voyage to Belgium as a guest of the Port of Antwerp. While docked, the Global Mercy will complete several months of final outfitting and crewing. This includes installation of medical equipment and IT systems as well as stocking the vessel with supplies through the Mercy Ships European Distribution Center in the Netherlands. The visit to Europe will culminate in a final send-off from Rotterdam for the ship’s first voyage to Africa. Mercy Ships also plans to hold an Africa commissioning event for the arrival of the Global Mercy in Dakar in early 2022, at the start of the ship’s first field service in Senegal.

The vessel’s purpose-designed hospital decks consist of six operating theatres and hospital wards for 200 patients, laboratory, general outpatient, ophthalmology and dental clinics. The ship has space for up to 950 persons in port including 641 crew, comprised of volunteers from around the globe. Global Mercy is equipped with training facilities to allow Mercy Ships to contribute to the sustainable support of essential surgical and related skills for local healthcare professionals when docked.

Mercy Ships expects to more than double the charity’s current impact with both surgeries and training of healthcare professions during the anticipated 50-year lifespan of the vessel.

The Global Mercy will join the current Mercy Ship, Africa Mercy in service to sub-Saharan and Central Africa. This new ship is the first built from design to implementation by the charity as all previous ships were adapted from other purposes. The shipbuilding project was managed by Stena RoRo AB of Gothenburg, Sweden, and the French ship brokerage company Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS) was instrumental in helping negotiate the contract, Mercy Ships said. Global Mercy is flagged by Malta and classed by Lloyd’s Register.

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