MERCY Ships’ newly completed hospital vessel Global Mercy has opened its doors to the public and global dignitaries in Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands as it prepares to sail for Africa.

The 174-metre vessel will have the capacity to accommodate 950 people, including a crew of 641 comprising volunteers from around the world.  

Representatives from MSC Cargo, MSC Cruises, and the MSC Foundation participated in the opening events, which included a flag-raising ceremony and a tour of the vessel.

Matthieu Schaap, general manager – business development for MSC Netherlands, described Mercy Ships as an impressive organisation.

“Whether one is religious or not, I think the good thing anyone can take from any religion is the feeling of care for your neighbours, family and others – and that is what you can feel on board the Global Mercy and throughout the organisation as a whole,” he said.

The MSC Foundation has supported Mercy Ships by providing logistical support for Global Mercy, including containers carrying materials to equip the vessel for service.

It has supported the charity since 2011, and directly funds on-the-ground projects focused on assisting vulnerable communities around the world.

“We are honoured and proud to count ourselves among Mercy Ships’ changemakers; the organisation is a true community with a shared passion for its important mission,” MSC Foundation executive director Daniela Picco said at the ceremony.

“Don Stephens, founder of Mercy Ships is fond of saying ‘if you want to go far, go together’, and they can count on us to continue this journey together, bringing hope and healing to many thousands in need,” she said.

Global Mercy will enter into service in May this year, on its first mission in Dakar, Senegal. It will be the first of many missions around the coast of Africa.

“We are so grateful for all the assistance of MSC Cargo, MSC Cruises and MSC Foundation in turning this dream of a vessel into a reality and helping us continue our journey to transform lives and serve nations, one at a time,” founder Don Stephens said.

A plaque on deck 11 of the vessel has been contributed to the MSC Foundation, which sponsored the cargo deck.  

Global Mercy is one of two vessels currently operated by Mercy Ships. Africa Mercy has been in Dakar since February this year.