THE Port of Townsville is providing “in kind” support to North Queensland’s YWAM medical ship for six months.

YWAM MS is a world-class medical ship that has been docked in Townsville since March and will be homed in the Townsville Marine Precinct until October 2020.

The six-month in-kind berthage support will help prevent the not-for-profit organisation from suffering financial impacts due to the impacts of COVID-19 which have forced the vessel to remain in Australia an unplanned seven months.

YWAM Port Captain, Jeremy Schierer said that the medical ships had planned to remain in Papua New Guinea for all of 2020.

“When COVID-19 changed the world in mid-March and medical and training outreaches had to be suspended with international volunteers no longer able to travel to PNG, we brought the ship back to our home base Townsville,” he said.

“Port of Townsville’s provision of a wharf for the medical ship on a gift-in-kind basis is a massive help in this time of extended uncertainty and financial upheaval.

“YWAM Medical Ships is using this time for repairs and maintenance and looks forward to redeploying to PNG as soon as possible.”

Townsville Port’s general manager business strategy and sustainability, Claudia Brumme-Smith said that the decision to provide free berthage for the medical ship was essential in allowing to business to stay afloat during their suspended operations.

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“The port recognises the critical healthcare and engagement work the YWAM medical ship provides to our neighbours, Papua New Guinea, which is also a very important trading partner for North Queensland,”she said.

“Providing care to around 40,000 patients each year is a costly exercise. We understand this and we want to provide as much support as possible during these difficult times.”

The assistance for YWAM follows additional support offered to other port businesses and customers. The port has waived increases on rental rates for all commercial tenancies (which were due for review from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020) and waved increases for shipping charges in the 2020-2021 financial year.

“The port recognises that COVID-19 has resulted in significant financial impacts and distress for some industries and we will do what we can to help our economic region,” Ms Brumme-Smith said.

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