Building Capacity in the Mercy Ships Maritime Crew

Building Capacity in the Mercy Ships Maritime Crew

Mercy Ships is known for providing free, world-class surgical care to people throughout West Africa while partnering with healthcare workers to provide training and mentorship. But did you know that Mercy Ships also offers free training for the maritime volunteers who help keep the ship running?

Recently, seven deckhands became Deck Ratings and four Deck Ratings became certified Able Seafarers on the Africa Mercy. Their accomplishments were honoured in a ceremony onboard.

On average, the Maritime Training Program offers training to 150 crew members and staff each year. This innovative training program ensures that deck crew are fully qualified to International Maritime standards and fully licensed.

By offering the training free of charge to committed deck and engineering crew, we not only ensure that those maritime standards are met but we clearly demonstrate how much we value our maritime volunteers and their careers.

Kim Sanchez was recently promoted to Deck Rating onboard. He started his Mercy Ships journey as a student when his parents volunteered onboard. After graduating from the onboard school in 2019, he says that the transition from student to Deckhand was smooth.

“The training was a time to gain more experience and insight into what the job looks like and [how it] could prepare me to be ready 24/7 for emergency response.”

With continued training, Kim hopes to one day become an officer.

Kim on the bridge of the Africa Mercy

Along with Kim Sanchez, Abdulai Sesay is also now a certified Deck Rating. When he first applied to Mercy Ships, he came to work in Housekeeping and then later in the Dining Room. After three years, Abdulai decided to join the Deck Department.

“I was not expecting to be in the maritime industry. When I came onboard the ship, they gave [me] that opportunity. You can work at the same time and get training. This kind of thing was amazing. I didn’t have to pay anything, so I felt like it was a great privilege for me.”

During his training, Abdulai appreciated the approachable nature of the training officers. He says he found they were encouraging and sought to make the instruction easy to understand. It is because of the training opportunities available through Mercy Ships, that Abdulai is one step closer to his maritime career goal:

“For now, I’m a Rating, but I’m trying to get my AB [Able Bodied Seafarer Certification], and when I get my AB, I’m targeting to become an officer.”

Abdulai Sesay, volunteer deck crew, onboard the Africa Mercy.

“The unique environment that Mercy Ships offers its maritime crew is not like many other opportunities” describes Nic Gardner, Second Officer. As Safety Officer as well, Gardner states, “Because of the workload, low manning and industry pressure, most commercial ships have very little time and few resources for training.” However, the “Africa Mercy deck department prioritizes training. The officers and experienced deck crew support people working towards various qualifications, and we have dedicated time and resources –including a training officer on board.”

For more information on joining the volunteer maritime crew with Mercy Ships, just visit our volunteer page.