GARDEN VALLEY, TEXAS - May 23, 2007 - Mercy Ships announced today that its newest vessel, the Africa Mercy, the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship, has docked in Monrovia following the vessel's maiden voyage from the U.K. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has used hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care to the forgotten poor. The Africa Mercy effectively doubles Mercy Ships capacity to provide free health care and community development services.
The crews of the Africa Mercy and her sister Mercy Ship, the Anastasis, will be officially welcomed by Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on Monday. After serving more than 275 ports over her lifetime, the Anastasis will be retired this fall. The ship's surgical work and health care projects will be carried on by Africa Mercy's more than 400-member crew of medical and development volunteers, beginning in late June.
The projected surgical capacity onboard the Africa Mercy is approximately 7,000 operations per year including, cataract removal/lens implant, tumor removal, cleft lip and palate reconstruction, orthopaedics and obstetric fistula repair.
Myron E. Ullman, III, Chairman of the Mercy Ships International Board stated, "Mercy Ships has spent the last 30 years focused on bringing critical health care and support to more than 70 nations around the world. The Africa Mercy will now lead the charge to help end despair throughout the regions of Africa. We are honored to have President Johnson-Sirleaf join us as we celebrate the inaugural mission of this great ship." Mr. Ullman, CEO of Texas-based JCPenney, will attend the festivities to celebrate the arrival of the Africa Mercy in Liberia and the handover of services from the Anastasis.
Don Stephens, Founder/President of Mercy Ships, remarked, "With the addition of the Africa Mercy, Mercy Ships embarks on a new era of bringing hope and healing to the afflicted in Africa. We committed more than eight years ago to bring this exceptional new ship into our fleet and with the unyielding support of our donors, volunteers, and crew, this is now a reality. The level of care that can now be brought to this region has increased dramatically and our volunteer crew is thrilled to have the opportunity to put this new capability into action."
The purchase and conversion of the former rail ferry into a state-of-the-art hospital ship with an expected working life of approximately 30 years, cost approximately $62 million and was funded by donations and gifts-in-kind. They include a $10 million matching grant donated by The Oak Foundation, based in Switzerland, and ongoing support from U.K. businesswoman Ann Gloag OBE whose Balcraig Foundation donated in excess of $15 million to the project.
The first field service for the Africa Mercy will be led by a crew consisting of more than 400 volunteer professionals from 30 nations around the world, including doctors, dentists, nurses, community developers, teachers, builders, cooks, seamen, engineers, and many others. In addition to donating their time, volunteers pay their own airfare and room and board costs.
About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships is the leader in using hospital ships to deliver free world-class health care services to the forgotten poor. Since its inception in 1978, Mercy Ships has treated more than 200,000 people in village medical clinics, taught nearly 100,000 local people in primary health care, performing over 32,500 surgeries, 180,000 dental treatments and completing over 900 construction and agriculture projects, including schools, clinics, orphanages and water wells, for a total of more than $670 million worth of services. Each year more than 1,600 short-term volunteers serve with Mercy Ships. To date, more than 550 ports in 70 nations have been visited by a Mercy Ship.