Mercy Ships and MSC Foundation Join Forces for Healthcare at Sea

Partnership Sets Course for New Hospital Ship Offering Free Surgery and Training in Africa


A groundbreaking agreement was sealed between the MSC Group, the MSC Foundation, and the charitable organization Mercy Ships International, signaling the commencement of a project to construct a hospital ship that will annually provide free surgery and training to thousands of people in Africa.

The agreement, orchestrated by Gianluigi Aponte, founder of the MSC Group and the MSC Foundation; Diego Aponte, Chairman of the MSC Group and Board Member of the MSC Foundation; and Don Stephens, founder of Mercy Ships, is made possible through a generous donation from the MSC Foundation.

The new vessel will accommodate approximately 600 crew members and passengers onboard, with living spaces designed for comfort and functionality. Its hospital, spanning two decks and covering 7,000 square meters, will feature six operating rooms, a fully equipped laboratory, and state-of-the-art training facilities including a simulation laboratory. This setup will enable Mercy Ships to bolster local surgical systems during its typical 10-month port stays.

Since its inception in 1978, Mercy Ships has performed over 117,000 surgical interventions. These surgeries encompass a wide range of procedures such as maxillofacial reconstructions, contracture releases for severe burns, correction of pediatric orthopedic issues, cleft lip and palate repairs, ophthalmology, and dental services.

Mercy Ships is also committed to enhancing the capacities of local healthcare systems through sustainable education, training, and advocacy programs for surgery. The non-governmental organization has provided additional training to over 54,300 local professionals in their specialized areas.

Expanding its fleet with a new hospital ship, designed with specifications akin to the Global Mercy and focusing on designated training spaces, will enable Mercy Ships to increase its capacity to collaborate with host countries in training and advocacy efforts.


The imperative to accelerate access to surgical care and surgical training in sub-Saharan Africa remains stark.

Operating hospital ships involves transporting vast quantities of essential supplies across oceans and seas to continually support surgical and training activities.

MSC and Mercy Ships have been partners since 2011, with the MSC Group ensuring logistical support and delivery of supply containers to all service ports. The infrastructure support and logistical expertise provided by MSC’s teams in Africa span from MSC’s local maritime agency and MSC and TiL terminals handling cargo to MSC and MEDLOG’s logistics, warehousing, and inland transportation services.

Additionally, MSC has provided extensive technical advice and expertise in the preparation of the new vessel, collaborating with Mercy Ships to develop a design that enhances efficiency for the organization’s needs.

Mercy Ships operates hospital ships that provide free surgical operations and other healthcare services to those with limited access to safe medical care. In collaboration with national partners, Mercy Ships also provides additional training to local healthcare professionals and supports the construction of medical infrastructure in the country for lasting impact.

Each year, over 3,000 volunteer professionals from more than 60 countries serve aboard the world’s two largest non-governmental hospital ships, Africa Mercy and Global Mercy. Professionals such as surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, cooks, and engineers dedicate their time and skills to accelerate access to safe surgical, obstetric, and anesthetic care. Mercy Ships was founded in 1978 and has offices in 16 countries, as well as a Service Center for Africa in Dakar, Senegal.

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