Mercy Ships to Launch Largest Charity Hospital Ship

Mercy Ships will soon launch its newest ''Africa Mercy'' ship, which is expected to double the number of medical beneficiaries than it is currently serving.

Corrections appended

A global charity operating a growing fleet of hospital ships will soon launch its newest "Africa Mercy" ship, which is expected to double the number of medical beneficiaries than it is currently serving.

Slated to go active in April off the Port of London, the former Danish rail ferry will be the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship as Texas-based Mercy Ships says goodbye to two veteran ships - Anastasis and the Caribbean Mercy. Best practices from the two retiring ships were used as a base line in designing the hospital, public areas and crew accommodations on the Africa Mercy.

While the former cruise liners were converted into hospital ships, the organization's newest vessel will have a purpose-built hospital, allowing for greater numbers to be cared for.

The $62 million project, which includes state-of-the-art hospital facilities, is being launched through sponsors and patrons of the Africa Mercy project, which is undergoing the final stages of its conversion.

In the meantime, the Caribbean Mercy finished its winter duty as it served as a base of operations for hurricane relief efforts on the Gulf Coast. The ship visited 138 ports primarily throughout the Caribbean and Central American region, serving as an eye hospital and offering dental, orthopedic and healthcare services off ship.

Anastasis is in the process of completing her 274th port assignment in Monrovia, Liberia, which is slated to conclude at the end of May. The former 1950's Italian passenger liner was pioneered as a hospital ship to serve the nations and tens of thousands of volunteers have helped bring the message of hope and healing to the developing nations.

After 28 years of service, Anastasis, home to a nearly-400 volunteer crew from 31 nations, will pass the torch on to the newest vessel on June 4 in Tema, Ghana.

Crew members from the retiring ships, which the organization is still taking inventory for, have been invited to serve on the Africa Mercy or in other Mercy Ships fields.

Mercy Ships, founded in 1978, delivers free world-class health care services to the poor living in developing nations. Doctors with Mercy Ships have performed more than 21,000 surgeries since the early 1980s and provided more than 2 million total services impacting more than 5.5 million people.

Correction: Tuesday, February 28, 2006:

An article on Monday, Feb. 27, 2006, about Mercy Ships' newest vessel, Africa Mercy, and two retiring ships incorrectly reported the Anastasis as having completed her 274th port assignment in Monrovia, Liberia. The Christian Post confirmed with the ship's media liaison, J. Todd Sorrell, on Tuesday that Anastasis is currently completing her port assignment in Monrovia and will not conclude until the end of May. The article also incorrectly reported that Anastasis has a volunteer crew from 40 nations. The ship has 31 different nations represented onboard with 32 nations being the most represented in the outreach.