What is it like to work on the World’s largest civilian hospital ship? 

4th Apr 2022

Two Northern Marine seafarers share their initial experiences of life onboard the Global Mercy.

A newbuild vessel completed in 2021, the ship is equipped with 6 operating theatres, 102 acute care beds, 7 ICU/isolation beds and an additional 90 self-care beds.

Recently outfitted in Rotterdam, it will set off to Africa later in the year where it will provide life changing care to thousands.

Northern Marine Manning Services is proud to serve Mercy Ships as crewing agent for the Global Mercy, supplying high quality seafarers on demand.

Chief Officer Bartosz Baran recently completed an assignment onboard the vessel.

He said: “The main difference [compared to working on a more conventional RoRo vessel] is the presence on board of a large and high-class hospital. This yields scenarios that other ships do not often encounter, like demand for large volumes of good-quality fresh water or medical requirements for waste management.

“As the vessel is predominantly in situ supporting those onshore, another challenge for a mariner like myself is the comparatively reduced sea time when equipment and procedures can be further tested in real conditions.

“It took me a moment to get used to the thought that this ship was designed and built for a different purpose to transporting people or cargo.”

As 4th Engineer onboard, Benjamin Barker has found many aspects of working on the Global Mercy different to working onboard a more conventional ferry.

He said: “From an engineering point of view, I feel like I have learnt a lot in my 2 months so far.

“I have never worked on a vessel of this size with regards to the accommodation and facilities, so there are a few different systems that I’ve been introduced to, one being the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It’s a system I previously understood, but the size and the complexity of the system here meant I had to have some extra training from the engineers who are used to working with the system on a daily basis.

“As we are a big team, there are occasionally times where I have the time to study a particular system or machine.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with technicians in depth on the Water-mist system which has proved a great learning experience for me, knowing in great detail how the system operates and functions.

“Every day there is hope and positivity within the crew and we all strive as one to complete the work needed to progress towards the ultimate goal.”

The ultimate goal for the Officers onboard is to ensure the vessel is in the best possible condition and operated at the optimum level to ensure those onboard can deliver vital healthcare.

It is not only the operations and engineering that Bartosz and Ben have found unique; they have also been deeply impressed by the culture and atmosphere onboard.

Bartosz said: “The atmosphere on board is unique. Volunteers from all continents, who are sometimes on board with their families, make a commitment to ‘make their mark’ by helping to provide medical care to the poorest.

“Being part of this is a joyful experience

“I have had a chance to meet people from literally all over the world; those connections would have probably never have happened elsewhere. I am impressed by how people involve themselves in building a community and how much time and work those onboard want to give to us [the officers], to make our time spent on the ship more valuable.”

Ben added: “The biggest thing I have enjoyed onboard the Global Mercy is the community.

“From the day I arrived onboard I was greeted with nothing but smiles and welcoming arms, and I immediately felt at home.

“I feel like the work has had a very positive impact on me personally. I believe this is a result of the atmosphere within the working environment. I enjoy going to the engine room every day (not so much when called during the night), to be given the daily jobs and tasks that are needed to be dealt with.

“I am in fact very grateful and overwhelmed that I have been offered a further 3-month extension onto my current contract, meaning that I get to stay as part of the Global Mercy Engineering team and the whole community until June in Senegal.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time onboard the Global Mercy and would like to give thanks to both Northern Marine for offering me the contracts that ultimately got me here but also to Mercy Ships for making me feel so welcome and making me feel part of the mission to bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.”