MSC and Mercy Ships International to Build a Hospital Ship

New Hospital Ship

MSC Group, MSC Foundation and the charity Mercy Ships International have reached an agreement to build a new hospital ship, according to a press release.

The new ship will provide free surgery and training to thousands of people in Africa.

The agreement was finalized by Captain Gianluigi Aponte, chairman of MSC Group and MSC Foundation, Diego Aponte, MSC group president and Member of the MSC Foundation Board, and Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens on April 8, kickstarting the project with a donation from MSC Foundation.

Captain Aponte said: “I spent part of my childhood and early years in the shipping industry in the Horn of Africa, it is a region close to my heart. I saw firsthand the challenges faced by many local communities there and this shaped my conviction that improving the availability of healthcare would bring real and lasting impact for them. It has been extremely gratifying to work with Don and provide this crucial support through his unique organization Mercy Ships, our partnership has reaped extraordinary results already and now we are on the verge of expanding their fleet to increase this support. I truly look forward to seeing this new ship set sail to help more communities across Africa.”

Stephens added: “The investment of many around the world towards a fleet of hospital ships will be enhanced by the future of our new purpose-built vessel. The mission of Mercy Ships to bring hope and healing is only possible by the generosity of our partners, volunteer crew, and the provision of God. Today, I am grateful to MSC for their support.”

The new ship will have the capacity to accommodate approximately 600 crew members and guests. The hospital will span two decks and 7,000 square meters, featuring six operating rooms, a fully equipped laboratory and training spaces including a simulation lab. 

Diego Aponte said: “I have always been passionate about Africa and I was struck by the extraordinary and honorable nature of Don’s initiative when it was first presented, and these made me want to be involved in a significant way. Mercy Ships brings tangible and concrete support to thousands of families across the region, and with MSC Group’s major presence there we have a duty to give back to the local communities. This vessel is yet another milestone in our vision to support the African continent with achieving a truly prosperous and sustainable destiny.”

Gert van de Weerdhof, CEO, Mercy Ships said: “This new hospital ship brings state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to support the nations we serve. This new vessel and her future crew will enable us to meet surgical needs while supporting host nations as they develop healthcare systems with their next generation of medical professionals.”

Daniela Picco, MSC Foundation executive director, said: “We are extremely proud of our support for Mercy Ships through grant-making and in-kind donations and of the transformative impacts their free services and training have had on 18,000 medical professionals and community leaders, and 30,300 patients of all ages through 33,200 surgeries since 2011.

“When the discussion started with Mercy Ships’ founder Don Stephens to build a new ship together, I was delighted to facilitate this game-changing commitment to accompany Mercy Ships into the coming decades.”


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