Following several years of construction at the Tianjin Xingang shipyard in northern China, the official sea trials of the hospital ship ‘Global Mercy’, has now been completed with good results.
The shipyard will present the ship for delivery this summer and the vessel will then sail to Antwerp in Belgium on its maiden voyage, where some members of the crew will board and the medical equipment supplemented.
This will be followed by a visit to Rotterdam, and after this the ’Global Mercy’ will be ready for its first mission in West Africa.
Stena RoRo is leading the building project on behalf of the international charity organisation Mercy Ships, which provides free life-changing healthcare to people in some of the world’s poorest countries.
This project began in 2013 and Stena RoRo was responsible for the design, contracting and execution. It was claimed to be unique and placed major and specific demands on both design and layout, dependent on the special needs that hospital operations entail.
On board are operating theatres and hospital wards, and everything needed for both patients and those working on board, including schools and pre-schools for the children of the volunteers.
“The purpose of a sea trial is to ensure that the ship’s systems are working properly during operation and that the requirements of the specifications and applicable standards are met,” explained Per Westling, Stena RoRo CEO.
“The hospital services to be provided on the ’Global Mercy’ entail increased requirements for good ventilation and minimisation of vibrations, for example. This was also checked and she was approved on all counts.”
The hospital ship was the result of a global collaborative project with the participation of a number of sub-contractors from around the world. Swedish Stena RoRo led the project and Finnish Deltamarin conducted design work.
A French shipbroker, Barry Rogliano Salles, (BRS Group), assisted in preparing the contract and the ship was built at the Tianjin Xingang shipyard in northern China. She is classed by Lloyd’s Register and will sail under the Maltese flag and operate along the African coast.
Stena RoRo had based the project on a ropax concept. The concept was modified to a purely passenger ship design with hospital activities.
‘Global Mercy’ will have six operating theatres, 200 hospital beds, a laboratory, a patient clinic and an eye and dental clinic. In total, she will be able to accommodate 950 people, of which 641 will be crew.
“For a few years now, our team has consisted of up to 16 members stationed at the Tianjin Xingang shipyard,” said project leader and site manager, Rikard Olsson, who has been in China with his family almost continuously since 2016. “The team has mixed nationalities and part of the job has been to reconcile the different cultures.
“An important task has been to ensure that the ship is built according to the specifications. For this shipyard, this is the first time this kind of ship, which can be compared to a cruise ship, has been built. We have worked hard to meet the required standard and everything has gone very well. We are very pleased with the collaboration with the shipyard,” he said.
In addition to providing free medical and dental care, Mercy Ships contributes to building up local healthcare infrastructure by training local healthcare staff. This is why the ’Global Mercy’ is equipped with training facilities, including equipment for virtual reality training and other simulations of care and methods for use in environments with limited resources.
“The ’Global Mercy’ is a special project that we are proud to be a part of. Mercy Ships is doing a fantastic job and with the new ship, their capacity to provide free medical care to many extremely vulnerable people will be more than twice as large,” Westling added, who in 2017 visited her sistership ’Africa Mercy’ when it was based in Madagascar.