MSC Group, MSC Foundation and global charity Mercy Ships are proceeding with plans to build a new hospital ship to be deployed in Africa.

On 8 April the three parties finalised an agreement which sets the project in motion with an anchor donation from MSC. Construction preparations now underway.

MSC and Mercy Ships have been partners since 2011, with MSC Group handling logistical support and container delivery of supplies to the ports Mercy Ships services.

There are two hospital ships in the existing fleet, namely Africa Mercy and Global Mercy, which enable the charity to deliver free medical care and surgery. Mercy Ships took delivery of Global Mercy in June 2021.

MSC said it has provided technical advice and experience in preparation for the next vessel, working with Mercy Ships to develop a design “that is an evolution in terms of efficiency” for the charity.

The new ship would feature living spaces to accommodate about 600 crew members and guests on board. Its hospital would span two decks and 7000 square meters, featuring six operating rooms, a fully equipped laboratory, and training spaces such as a simulation lab.

Mercy Ships CEO Gert van de Weerdhof said the new hospital ship would bring state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to support the nations Mercy Ships serves.

“This new vessel and her future crew will enable to meet surgical needs, while supporting host nations as they develop healthcare systems with their next generation of medical professionals,” he said.

MSC Group president Diego Aponte said Mercy Ships brings tangible and concrete support to thousands of families across Africa.

“With MSC Group’s major presence there we have a duty to give back to the local communities,” he said.

“This vessel is yet another milestone in our vision to support the African continent with achieving a truly prosperous and sustainable destiny.”

MSC Foundation executive director Daniela Picco said free services and training provided by Mercy Ships have had “transformative impacts” on 32,000 patients through 26,700 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,” she said.

And founder Don Stephens said he was grateful to MSC for its support.

“The investment of many around the world towards a fleet of hospital ships is ensured by the future of our new purpose-built vessel,” he said.