Operating hospital ships in ports around the world requires thousands of essential supplies being transported across the globe. When the ports are remote and difficult to navigate, and the supplies are literally the difference between life and death, there’s little room for error or delay.

That’s why the shipping support MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) Group provides to Mercy Ships is so critical. And this month marks 10 years of powerful partnership.

“MSC Foundation is our lifeline, literally,” said Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens. “They bring all our consumables. That means everything we use, for the galley, housekeeping, but especially the medical, is shipped to us by MSC.”

With the support of MSC Group over the past decade, Mercy Ships has performed 19,740 surgical procedures and 218,100 dental procedures, and provided medical training for 15,150 participants. Over that time, MSC transported 473 containers filled with crucial supplies for Mercy Ships vessels.

With MSC Group handling the logistics and transport of those supplies, Mercy Ships resources are freed up to concentrate on supporting healthcare and training infrastructures, and providing safe surgeries.

“That’s MSC Foundation and Mercy Ships partnering together to go far,” said Don Stephens. “We’re in this for a long-term partnership that will bring sustainable, transformational development to the people of Africa.”

MSC container being loaded onto the cargo deck.

Roots of Friendship

The seeds for this partnership were planted in 1978, when Stephens purchased the first Mercy Ships flagship, the Anastasis, from an Italian company owned by MSC’s founder, Mr. Gianluigi Aponte.

Then in 2011, Mercy Ships Swiss governmental liaison Pierre Christ came to the Aponte family in Switzerland with a request. He asked if MSC would consider helping Mercy Ships solve its supply challenges in the complex region of West Africa.

“When embarking on this partnership commitment, we understood that MSC’s global reach would be a perfect fit for Mercy Ships, enabling us both to achieve greater impact,” said MSC Group President Diego Aponte. “But the results have exceeded all expectations.”

With its vast expertise in shipping logistics, MSC provides tailor-made support for Mercy Ships. And for MSC Foundation, Mercy Ships acts as a trusted partner to carry out a long-held mission of humanitarian aid and sustainable development.

“Here’s to the next 10 years and the many more thousands of lives Mercy Ships will transform in its mission of hope and healing!” Aponte said.

MSC container being unpacked on the cargo deck.

A Powerful Partnership

MSC typically sends more than 50 containers every year to keep the Africa Mercy® resupplied. This saves Mercy Ships up to $200,000 per year in ocean freight costs. Every dollar saved means more surgeries, more lives transformed, and more local medical professionals trained.

“By providing free container shipping and logistic support since 2011, MSC has enabled Mercy Ships to concentrate its precious resources on its core mission: providing life-changing surgeries for the poorest and building medical capacity in vulnerable communities worldwide,” said Aponte. “What Mercy Ships has been able to achieve as a result is truly extraordinary! We are delighted to celebrate its success and are extremely proud of everything we have accomplished together.”

MSC is one of the largest privately owned shipping companies in the world. They have more than 560 container ships, 17 cruise ships, and a port agency business, Medlog. That business facilitates the building of a container wall around the hospital ships for security while they’re in port, and provides logistical expertise on the ground.

Continuing the Hope and Healing

MSC’s network of 493 offices in 155 countries connects Mercy Ships floating hospitals to the supplies they need to bring hope and healing to sub-Saharan Africa.

“This support also now extends to our new ship, the Global Mercy®, which heads to Senegal in 2022 following final outfitting in the Port of Antwerp and spring sendoff from Rotterdam,” said Don Stephens.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the newly formed MSC Foundation also worked with Mercy Ships to ship PPE to partner organizations in 11 African nations. Those shipments, valued at over $1 million, helped equip governments to fight the virus and protect their local healthcare workers.

“Because of MSC’s cargo support and programmatic sponsorships, your work touches thousands,” Stephens said. “Thank you MSC for partnering with us in our mission to provide hope and healing.” To learn more about the partnership between Mercy Ships and MSC, check out this https://vimeo.com/593485526/be4815fe9b

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