Cargo Day, the global shipping and trading community fund-raising venture, has this year raised more than $1m for the hospital ship charity Mercy Ships.

Dozens of companies, including many big players in chartering, shipbroking and shipowning, have stepped forward by contributing so-called Mercy Cargoes, donating commissions and pledging donations.

The record total so far of around $1.14m means that Cargo Day has, since it was launched in 2016, raised around $3m for Mercy Ships.

The charity operates the world’s largest non-government hospital vessel, the 16,600-gt Africa Mercy (built 1980) and is scheduled in 2020 to take delivery of a purpose-built newbuilding, Global Mercy, from China’s Tianjin Xingang Shipbuilding Heavy industry.

Dream result

Tim Webb, BRS’ global head of tankers, who founded Cargo Day, says: “When we started, I never dreamt that $1m could be achieved.

“But when we reached over $670,000 with the second Cargo Day in 2017, I could see real interest from the shipping and trading community and realised that we had it in us to take Cargo Day to $1m and beyond.

Mercy Ships Cargo Day 2019 Photo: Mercy Ships

“I literally fell off my chair when I heard that we had broken through a million.”

He adds: “I have discovered in the process that within this tough and competitive shipping and trading community there are many humble, caring, generous people.

“It makes me proud to be part of this industry.”

More than 80 shipping and trading companies participated in this year's Cargo Day.

“We can guarantee the donations go directly to those who need it most,” is the assurance from Don Stephens, who launched Mercy Ships in 1978 along with his wife, Deyon.

The annual fund-raiser is a “brilliant idea,” he said.

Partnership with the shipping industry is strong and “we, Mercy Ships, are deeply grateful to receive these funds,” said Stephens.

Medical care

Volunteers on board Africa Mercy—surgeons, doctors and many more from all around the world—provide free medical care to the under-privileged in sub-Sahara Africa.

During Africa Mercy’s recent 10-month field service in Guinea, West Africa, more than 10,000 individual patients were cared for, including removal of tumours, hernia repairs, cleft lip and/or palate repairs, and paediatric procedures.

The vessel is now in Senegal where the captain is Joshua McGrath, much of whose career has been with the Alaska Marine Highways System (Alaska Ferries). He has volunteered with Mercy Ships on different occasions since 2007.

The approximately 450 volunteers on board Africa Mercy pay for their own air fares and monthly room and board.