Mercy Ships' first purpose-built hospital ship newbuilding has completed deepwater sea trials, ahead of entering service in 2022.

After the medical charity takes delivery of the 37,000-gt Global Mercy, the world’s largest civilian hospital ship will sail from a shipyard in China to Belgium, where it will be a guest of the Port of Antwerp.

“These deepwater trials represent a critical checklist before delivery for our new purpose-built ship to become the platform for service it is designed to be. I am pleased to say that the Global Mercy successfully passed every test,” said Jim Paterson, marine executive consultant for Mercy Ships.

Sea trials included engine performance and fuel consumption, navigation and radio equipment, emergency systems, manoeuvrability and thruster tests as well as safety evaluations.

While docked in Antwerp final outfitting will be completed, including installation of medical equipment and IT systems. Stocking with supplies will follow in Rotterdam.

The Global Mercy will then sail to Africa, with commissioning in Dakar, Senegal, followed by its first field service from early 2022.

Mercy Ships' purpose-built hospital ship Global Mercy on sea trials 2021. Photo: Mercy Ships

Purpose-designed hospital decks comprise six operating theatres and hospital wards for 200 patients, alongside general outpatient, ophthalmology and dental clinics. The ship has space for up to 950 people in port, including 641 crew who are volunteers from around the globe.

Mercy Ships expects to more than double its current medical impact, with life-changing surgeries and training of healthcare professionals during the ship's anticipated 50-year lifespan.

The 174-metre-long tailored passengership was built at Tianjin Xingang Shipyard in China, with project management by Sweden’s Stena RoRo to a design from Deltamarin of Finland.

The Global Mercy joins the charity's existing ship, the converted 16,000-gt ro-ro Africa Mercy (built 1980).

French shipbroker BRS was instrumental in helping negotiate the contract for the Lloyd’s Register-classed and Malta-flagged Global Mercy.

Last November, the charity raised $787,000 toward its ongoing medical charity operations from its Cargo Day 2020 fundraising day — taking the total to nearly $4m over five years of the events. Brokers raised about half of this year's total, shipowners 25% and charterers 20%.

Cargo Day 2021 will be held on 21 November this year.