Wärtsilä supplies engines to the largest hospital ship in the world

The Global Mercy, the world's largest hospital ship, is presently being built.

It will set sail in 2020 with 154 hospital beds, 6 operating theatres and 641 volunteers on board, and with low-vibration engines by Wärtsilä.

The Global Mercy will sail along the African coast, where the crew will offer assistance to the most poverty-stricken. The aid organisation Mercy Ships chooses to give free medical help on board a ship. The reason Mercy Ships gives medical help is because worldwide, there are around 4.5 billion people who have no access to safe and available surgical care. According to Mercy Ships, seventy percent of people in need of assistance live within a 150-kilometre radius of a large port. Another reason is that in the event of local crisis situations, a ship can sail to safety.

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This allows the organisation to reach more people from sea than it could on land. Ronald Hemerik, PartnerSHIPS manager at Mercy Ships Holland: “We work very closely with parties working ashore. They sometimes fly patients out to our current ship the Africa Mercy, which is a train ferry that has been converted to a hospital at sea. Thanks to such collaboration, ships can offer added value to the total range of aid workers.”

Mercy Ships

The organisation that commissioned the building of the Global Mercy, Mercy Ships, is a private organisation and consists solely of volunteers. Hemerik: “None of us gets paid a salary, not even the nursing staff and surgeons on board. The present crew consists of people from forty different countries, some of whom have been sailing with the ship for years. Our organisation is overflowing with commitment; to us, every human being is precious.”

People who need help, come to the ship for medical care, trust and safety. That's what people expect from the medical care. And that's also what the aid organisation expects from its new ship. Hemerik: “That's why we wanted only the best brands on the ship, from the best parties, such as medical equipment from Philips and engines from Wärtsilä.”

Conscious decision

The ship will be built in Tianjin, in China, by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC). Stena Roro is doing the project management. Hemerik: “When you're building a hospital ship like this from scratch, you weigh things up explicitly with each component. Obviously, you want optimum welfare and comfort for the patients and the personnel on board. That's why the builder recommended we choose the double-insulated Wärtsilä engines, which cause far fewer vibrations in the ship than conventional engines do. That's a big plus. And the fact that Wärtsilä is well-known for its excellent service also played a part in this decision.”


The hospital ship will be delivered in 2020, and the organisation is already looking forward to it, says Hemerik: “There's great excitement. After years of improvising with old, refurbished ships, a state-of the-art ship will take to the water at Benin in 2020. Starting from 1 April just passed, that's only ten quarters. The big countdown has started!”

Global Mercy

Length: 174 metres — breadth: 28.6 metres — 12 decks — 700 square metres of hospital — 6 operating theatres — 154 hospital beds — a crew of 641 volunteers