MSC Group and Mercy Ships Celebrate 10 Years of Partnership

MSC Group and Mercy Ships Celebrate 10 Years of Partnership

End-to-end support by MSC, from container shipping to logistics, fundraising and maritime expertise, have maximised hospital ships’ life-changing impact for thousands of people.

Ce mois-ci, le groupe MSC et Mercy Ships célèbrent un remarquable partenariat de dix ans, destiné à apporter espoir et guérison en Afrique.

Mercy Ships est une organisation humanitaire internationale. Elle exploite des navires-hôpitaux pour proposer des interventions chirurgicales gratuites et renforcer les capacités médicales des régions pauvres et mal desservies qui n’ont pas facilement accès aux soins de santé. L’organisation et ses milliers de bénévoles transforment la vie de milliers de personnes. L’exploitation de navires-hôpitaux nécessite l’acheminement à travers le monde de nombreuses quantités de matériels et fournitures indispensables pour assurer une chirurgie fiable et une formation de qualité.

This month MSC Group and Mercy Ships are celebrating a unique ten-year partnership focused on bringing hope and healing in Africa.

Mercy Ships is an international charity that uses hospital ships to provide free healthcare services and medical capacity building for poor and underserved communities without easy access to medical facilities, providing lifesaving and life-changing surgeries for thousands. Operating hospital ships involves transporting large amounts of essential supplies across the world to provide safe surgery and training.

MSC, partenaire pour le transport

The partnership with the MSC Group and MSC Foundation helps meet these and wider needs, with MSC Group’s cargo business having grown to become a world leader in container shipping, as well as MSC Cruises, now the third-largest cruise brand in the world.

MSC Group has used these growing resources to provide Mercy Ships with rapidly increasing support over the past ten years, enabling it to concentrate its resources on delivering vital healthcare and medical training in sub-Saharan Africa.

Initially, the idea was to provide container shipping to keep the hospital ship Africa Mercy® supplied. To date, over 500 containers have been transported free of charge, saving Mercy Ships between $150,000 and $200,000 every year in ocean freight costs.

However, the strength of the MSC Group’s commitment meant that its cargo businesses in Africa immediately became involved to help the hospital ship establish its services effectively in every port, providing infrastructure support and logistical expertise on the ground through its local partner networks and port services. From the very start, this included building a “wall” of empty containers around the docked ship to create a safe hospital compound.

MSC Cruises stepped in very soon afterwards, providing maritime best practice and ship management expertise to support the Mercy Ships crew. The MSC Group has in addition mobilised its client and partner networks to provide fundraising assistance, enabling the implementation of a programme to combat Ebola amongst others.

MSC Foundation

In 2019, the partnership was extended to event sponsorships and programmatic funding through the newly formed MSC Foundation, including for a women’s healthcare initiative in Sierra Leone and PPE shipments to Mercy Ships partners in 11 African nations during the COVID pandemic.

Thanks to this comprehensive end-to-end support, now led and coordinated by the MSC Foundation, Mercy Ships has been able to perform 19,740 surgeries and 218,100 dental procedures during the partnership, while providing medical training for 15,150 participants.

As Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens explained, “MSC Foundation is our lifeline, literally. They bring all our consumables. That means everything we use – for the galley, housekeeping, but especially the medical – is shipped to us by MSC. That’s MSC Foundation and Mercy Ships partnering together to go far. We’re in this for a long-term partnership that will bring sustainable, transformational development to the people of Africa.”

The new hospital ship, the Global Mercy®

The partnership now includes the newest Mercy Ship, the Global Mercy which heads to Senegal in 2022, following final outfitting in the Port of Antwerp and a spring send-off from Rotterdam. MSC Group provided logistical support and the container delivery of supplies needed to build the Global Mercy.

Commemorating the tenth anniversary of the partnership, Diego Aponte, MSC Group President, commented: “When embarking on this partnership, we understood that MSC’s global reach, steadily expanding services and maritime expertise would be a perfect fit for Mercy Ships, enabling us both to achieve greater impact. But what Mercy Ships has been able to accomplish as a result is truly extraordinary! We are delighted to celebrate its success and are extremely proud of everything we have done together.”


The non-profit MSC Foundation implements the MSC Group’s marine conservation, humanitarian and sustainable development commitments worldwide, utilizing MSC’s global reach and unique knowledge of the sea to protect and nurture our blue planet, its peoples and our shared cultural heritage.

Concentrating on four areas – the Environment, Community Support, Education and Emergency Relief – the Foundation encourages the sustainable management and protection of ecosystems, empowers vulnerable communities around the world to realize their full potential, promotes equitable and inclusive quality education to foster enduring individual and collective development, and helps disaster-struck populations toward recovery.

The Foundation works to achieve this both independently and with trusted partners: independently, by leveraging MSC Group engagement in designing and managing projects, connecting communities, raising awareness and mobilizing the financial support of thousands of people; and together with partners that have a strong innovative vision or track record for effective action.

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Picture of René Lehmann
René Lehmann
René Lehmann is the Managing Director of Mercy Ships Switzerland.

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