HRH The Princess Royal became Patron of Mercy Ships International in 2021, and commemorated the launch of the charity’s new hospital ship, The Global Mercy, visiting the ship on 4 March 2022.

HRH The Princess Royal travelled to Rotterdam to thank UK and international volunteers for their vital role in Mercy Ships work, as they prepare to serve on the charity’s brand new, purpose-built hospital ship.

Mercy Ships relies on skilled volunteers, in partnership with developing nations, to deliver accessible, free surgery and medical care for those in unjust poverty and urgent need.

The Princess Royal became Patron of Mercy Ships International in 2021 and this was her first engagement in this new role after a long history supporting the charity.

She previously visited The Africa Mercy in Sierra Leone in November 2011, and this Ship is currently in service in Senegal.

HRH The Princess Royal said:

“It’s an honour to be Patron of Mercy Ships International and part of the celebrations for the very first, purpose-built, teaching hospital ship in Mercy Ships’ fleet and family.

“A mixture of volunteers bring brilliant surgery, knowledge and medical skills, from countries all over the world – but everybody who comes here has a skill and is happy to serve in whatever capacity will help the whole.

“The success Mercy Ships has had training doctors, dentists and medics to carry out the work in the future in their own countries – that is a real legacy.”

Joanne Balaam, CEO of Mercy Ships UK said:

“We’re delighted that The Princess Royal, Patron of Mercy Ships International, met key members of our crew and commemorated the launch of our purpose-built hospital ship, Global Mercy. Our need for volunteers is now greater than ever – more than 2,600 a year to serve on our two-ship fleet.

“Today’s visit by The Princess Royal is a wonderful recognition of all those who volunteer for Mercy Ships.  HRH saw first-hand the role they play in delivering free surgery and supporting local medics and health systems, during an earlier visit to the Africa Mercy in Sierra Leone.”

Doubling impact in Africa

The Global Mercy will be the big sister of the organisation’s current hospital ship, Africa Mercy. Mercy Ships expects to be able to double the impact of its work with the new ship, through life-changing surgeries, education, and training local healthcare providers in Africa.

When both ships are in full service, Mercy Ships hopes to perform more than 5,000 surgeries, deliver over 28,000 dental treatments, and train more than 2,800 medical professionals annually.

The Global Mercy is 174m long and 28.6m wide. It has Six operating rooms, 200 beds, a laboratory, general outpatient clinics and eye and dental clinics. The total area of the hospital department is 7,000 square metres.

The ship can accommodate 950 people when docked, including 641 crew members, who are made up of volunteers from all over the world.

In addition to the hospital, the ship contains the latest training facilities, with which Mercy Ships contributes to the sustainable development of local medical care in many countries.

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