Shipbrokers and traders have raised a record $1.7m this year by donating part of their cargo commissions to a medical charity operating two hospital ships in Africa.

Twelve new companies took part in the growing event organised by the charity Mercy Ships, which has worked in 55 countries using volunteer medics on board the ships.

The $1.7m raised following a day of trades on 9 November was double the amount collected in 2022. The previous record was $1.3m in 2019, the charity said.

New fundraising committees were set up in London and Rotterdam — joining Geneva, Houston and Singapore — to spark competition between rival shipbroking centres.

Brokers, charterers, shipowners and port agents all contributed to the total. The money will go towards the cost of operating two ships that have been refitted to carry out surgery, clinics and other healthcare work while moored at ports in Africa.

The 37,000-gt Global Mercy (built 2021), the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, will start full operations in Senegal in January. It will replace the 16,000-gt converted rail ferry Africa Mercy (built 1980), which will head to Durban in South Africa for a refit.

“On behalf of all our volunteers and patients, Mercy Ships and the Cargo Day committees would like to thank you, our generous partners… we are so grateful,” said the charity.