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Mariner and seafarer volunteers play crucial maritime roles on board our hospital ships.

Our hospital ships are transportable platforms that enables Mercy Ships to take state-of-the-art medical services into low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where safe essential surgery is not usually accessible.

Mariners volunteer their career skills and life experience to bring our vessels.  From the engine room, the bridge or the deck on the Africa Mercy and Global Mercy, seafarers play a key role in helping to provide much-needed care for people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mercy Ships’ technical crews bring our hospital ship vessels, carrying a complete hospital staff and state-of-the-art surgical facilities, into low-income countries where essential operations are not accessible.

Deck and engineering officers can be assigned family accommodation, with children attending the international school on board.

Story of Sinclair Carter

Join mariners from all over the world who are making a life-transforming difference by using their sea skills, for months or years, to help serve the marginalised with Mercy Ships.

Nursing role details

The scope of work includes inpatient surgical care for both adults and children.

Minimum volunteer period: 4 weeks

Requirements: Currently registered and practicing, with 2 years of experience in the specified role. 

Mariner opportunities on board


Preferred Minimum Commitment: Varies

Chief Engineer

Preferred Minimum Commitment: Varies

Chief Officer

Preferred Minimum Commitment: Varies

icon marine engineering

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 6 Months

icon marine engineering

Preferred Minimum Commitment: Varies


Preferred Minimum Commitment: Varies

Purser & Technical Admin Roles

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 6 Months – 2 Years


The typical 12-month cycle of a Mercy Ships vessel is as follows:

8-10 months in port during field service in West Africa,

6-8 weeks in shipyard and dry dock

4-6 weeks cumulative sailing between field services and shipyard

You can also refer to our ship schedules, as noted here.

Our vessels dock in a sub-Saharan port for approx 10 months of the year for a field service period. Either side of the field service, the vessel typically sails to the Canary Islands for maintenance and repairs. You can view the Africa Mercy and Global Mercy schedule here

All our volunteers work with people from the host nation, to some degree. The deck and engineering departments have national Day Crew working alongside our full time international crew. Day Crew are vital to our mission and an integral part of our community. Mentoring and training to strengthen local capacity is a foundational pillar our Mercy Ships’ work

  • A married person can serve up to three months without their spouse. 
  • Due to the physically demanding nature of the work on board our hospital ships, passing a physical is key part of the application process. For specific details on common medical reasons for exclusion like elevated blood pressure or BMI, please click here

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Mercy Ships is an international humanitarian organisation based on Christian values. Our mission is to improve access to health care in low-income nations. 

By deploying the world’s two largest non-governmental hospital ships, the Africa Mercy and the Global Mercy, Mercy Ships works with host countries to help them improve their health care systems.

Each year, more than 1,200 volunteers from over 60 nations donate their time and resources to support the Mercy Ships vision.

Mercy Ships’ surgical specialties include maxillofacialplastic reconstructiveorthopaedic, ophthalmic, general, and gynecological (obstetric fistula) surgery.

Simultaneously, we provide training and mentoring to upskill local health professionals, strengthening the host nation’s health care capacity. 

I love talking to people about finding their fit on board, and I’m here to answer your questions about volunteering.