Hospital ship Africa Mercy

Acquired in 1999 thanks to a donation and put into service in 2007, the Africa Mercy includes 5 operating rooms and an 82-bed room. This former ferry converted into a floating hospital makes it possible to offer surgeries to Africa of a level equivalent to those that can be obtained in Switzerland. In addition to being a hospital, it is also a real village with a school for the children of volunteers, a bank, a kiosk and even a hairdresser! The Africa Mercy is dedicated to the African continent.


Acquired in 1999 through an initial Balcraig Foundation donation, the ship was re-named the Africa Mercy by Dame Norma Major in April 2000.

The £30 million ($62 million USD) refit of the former Danish rail ferry Dronning Ingrid into the Africa Mercy was made possible through a matching grant from the Oak Foundation, ongoing support from the Balcraig Foundation, corporate gifts-in-kind, trusts and individual contributors.  The conversion was completed at A & P Shipyard, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in March 2007. The refit was deemed the largest conversion project of its kind in the UK.

Facilities and Features


The hospital covers most of the original rail deck – approximately 1,200 square metres. It is divided into quadrants containing supply/services, five operating rooms, a four bed recovery, intensive care for up to five individuals and 80 ward beds. The volunteer crew provides free surgical procedures on board including cataract removal/lens implants, tumour removal, cleft lip and palate reconstruction, orthopaedics (club feet and bowed legs) and Women’s Health (including obstetric fistula repair), Plastic, General surgeries as well as some Ambulatory Day Surgery procedures. The hospital contains a CT Scanner, X-ray, and laboratory services which support the surgical service.

Medical Capacity (Training and Infrastructure Development)

The Africa Mercy also serves as a platform to deliver high-quality training to local healthcare providers as a sustainable means of bolstering a country’s healthcare system. Training interventions ensure that healthcare providers use proper practices to reduce the risk of lengthy hospital stays, mishaps, and hospital acquired infections. These training courses are not only focused on surgical care (safe anaesthesia administration and care, WHO Safe Surgery Checklist, Primary Trauma Care, and Essential Surgical Skills) but also various paramedical healthcare services (e.g. Biomed, Sterilization), and an agricultural training programme. When appropriate, Mercy Ships may bolster these training efforts with equipment donations and/or facility renovations to ensure the trainees are as effective as possible.

Crew and Accommodation

The Africa Mercy has meeting and work spaces as well as berths for an average crew of 400 from up to 40 nations serving onboard at any given time. The 16,500 ton vessel has had over 4,900 crew from 74 countries serve onboard since its inception in 2007. The 474 berths are split between 26 family cabins, 25 two-berth cabins for couples and shared and single cabins for individual occupants.

Safety & Security

The vessel is fitted with an automatic sprinkler system throughout the accommodation and hospital areas. An addressable smoke detector system pinpoints the exact location of the source of any potential fire. Machinery spaces are covered by CO2 gas flooding system as well as a “Hi Fog” system which can be very effective in controlling localised fires in the machinery space. Gurkha security guards man the gangway 24 hours a day with metal detectors and other screening devices. They are backed up by CCTV around the vessel, while critical spaces such as the bridge and engine room remain locked at all times.


450 Crew capacity: Medical, Technical, Non-tech/Non-med & Family.


152 m
23,7 m

Crew Capacity
474 Cargo
1.724 m3
Main Engines
4 B&W (3120 KW chacun)

1980 Elsinore, Danemark
Surveyed By
Bureau Veritas

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Questions about volunteering?

For any questions related to volunteering, contact Jessica Morey (english)
Don’t forget to check our FAQ section on the “Become a volunteer” page beforehand, which will answer most of your questions.

Jessica Morey
Jessica Morey
Recruitment for the Africa Mercy and the Global Mercy