World's largest civilian hospital ship passes sea trials, led by Glasgow-born marine engineer

The worlds largest hospital ship has passed deep water sea trials, after a 14-year project led by Glasgow-born Marine engineer Jim Paterson.

Jim Paterson on the deck of the Global Mercy.
Jim Paterson on the deck of the Global Mercy.

The Global Mercy, built by charity Mercy Ships, is expected to change 150,000 lives over the course of its 50-year lifespan.

Volunteers will perform surgeries from correcting cleft lips and palates and congenital deformities to removing tumours and restoring eyesight aboard the ship while it is docked in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Mr Paterson, who studied Marine Engineering at Glasgow Caledonian University, started working with Mercy Ships in 1987.

The ship will operate in sub-Saharan Africa.

He led the organisation’s Marine Operations Department for two decades before focusing full-time on the completion of the Global Mercy as Marine Executive Consultant.

The deep water trials represent a “critical checklist” for the ship before it can be put to use, Mr Paterson said.

They are designed to test the vessel during extended sailing time to check that all systems work properly and in line with strict standards and specifications.

Tests include areas engine performance and fuel consumption, navigation and radio equipment, emergency systems, speed tests, maneuverability, engine, and thruster tests as well as safety evaluations.

Jim Paterson is the Marine Executive Consultant for Mercy Ships.

"Trials systematically test operational aspects by putting the vessel through paces for a week at sea,” said Mr Paterson.

"I am pleased to say that the Global Mercy successfully passed every test. We are then left with some finishing touches in the interior, particularly the hospital area.”

The ship will soon undertake its maiden voyage to Belgium as a guest of the Port of Antwerp, before launching into service in 2022 in Senegal.

The ship has space for up to 950 people in port, including a crew of 641 volunteers from around the world.

It has six operating theatres and hospital wards for 200 patients, a laboratory, general outpatient, ophthalmology and dental clinics.

The Global Mercy will also be specially equipped with training facilities, to allow for the training of local healthcare professionals when docked.

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Mercy Ships expects to more than double the charity’s current impact with both life-changing surgeries and training of healthcare professionals during the anticipated 50-year lifespan of the vessel.

The new vessel is the first ship built from design to implementation by the charity as all previous ships were adapted from other purposes. The Global Mercy will join the current Mercy Ship, Africa Mercy in service to sub-Saharan and Central Africa.

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world.

Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.7 billion and directly benefitting more than 2.8 million people.

Ships are crewed by volunteers from over 60 nations, with an average of over 1,200 volunteers each year.

Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills.

With 16 national offices and an Africa Bureau, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time.

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