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Tradies play a vital role on board our hospital ships

Tradies volunteer to help make the work of our hospital ships possible. Plumbers, sparkies, mechanics (and the odd chippie) daily perform vital tasks on the Mercy Ship that keep our operating theatres lit, our medical equipment fully functional, and our volunteer crew match-fit. We need you!

On board the Global Mercy and Africa Mercy, hundreds of volunteers keep the hospital ship ticking over smoothly, and work together to provide essential surgery for people in living in extreme poverty. 

The Engineering team are our hidden heroes because we all know stuff stops working every now and then, so we’ve got a Big Ask. Will you use your trade skills to help change lives and bring essential surgery to sub-Saharan Africa?

Are you ready for a reset? Volunteering your trade skills on board may be your next big adventure.

volunteer John Mather

Use your holiday time or long service leave to volunteer for a few months for a great cause. Join the hundreds of technical, medical and general volunteers who are making a life-transforming difference by using their career skills to help serve the marginalised, with Mercy Ships.

We need volunteers willing to spend two months or more on board caring for our crew and patients.  Can you come with us?

Our long-term senior roles for Master tradespeople may be eligible for family accommodation – you can bring your family to work for the adventure of a lifetime. 

If you have a desire to use your trade skills to help the vulnerable, then volunteering on board the world’s largest civilian hospital ships may be the next fabulous career move you make.

Tradie role details

These are specific to each individual role, see below.  

Minimum volunteer period: 3 months

Requirements: Fully certified and registered,  with 2 years of experience in the specified role. 


Tradie opportunities on board

Plumber (Hotel Technician)

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 3 mths

icon marine engineering

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 3 mths

icon marine engineering

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 3 mths

HVac Refrigeration Engineer

Preferred Minimum Commitment: varies

icon marine engineering

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 3 mths – 2 years

Mechanic/ Fitter&Turner

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 3 mths

Vehicle Mechanic

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 6 Months

Waste Management Engineer

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 years

The role may qualify for family accomodaiton on board

Other Tradesperson Roles

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 3 mths – 2 years


No, all overalls, tools and equipment,  are provided by the ship but you can bring your own work boots.

All volunteers must be over 18 to join, must be in good health and be aware of both the physical demands of living on board and in West Africa, as well as any physical demands of the role for which they want to join. For example, our volunteers may be required to sleep in a bunk-bed in a dorm-style room with other volunteers of the same gender.

As we are governed by a maritime authority, all volunteers are required to submit a medical history and physical evaluation which are reviewed by a licensed medical professional as part of the application process. Some pre-existing medical conditions (for example insulin-dependent diabetes, heart conditions, pregnancy, immune-suppressed conditions, etc.) may disqualify service due to maritime regulations and lack of availability to adequate medical care. Find out more about Medical Conditions for Volunteers.

Did you know the ship has multiple decks, and the average crew member climbs about 30 flights of stairs per day?

Did you know some roles primarily work off-ship (and sometimes even live off-ship), and require a different kind of physical stamina to be exposed to the heat and African climate?

*As a temporary measure, Mercy Ships has instituted an upper age limit for long term volunteers. While chronological age alone is not a determinant of overall health, age has been identified as an independent risk factor of severe cases of COVID-19. In view of this, applicants over the age of 70 years old may not join for more than one year at a time, but can serve in a short term capacity in the absence of any health issues.

This varies with the position. All technical crew should have a current certificate of Basic Safety Training (BST) according to STCW standards. If you are lacking a current BST certificate, we provide that training three times per year at our International Support Center in Texas, or can recommend an approved training location. For licensed crew members, a valid certificate of competency is required, along with a valid maritime medical certificate. Some national certificates are not recognised by the flag state of our vessels (Malta). We will review your certificates during the application process.

The tradie positions on the hospital ship require registered and certified tradespeople, as we do not have personnel or bed space on board currently to facilitate these opportunities. People with extensive experience but no qualification may be considered for some assistant roles 

  • 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


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.