Mercy Ships: Who Steers the Ship on their Mission of Hope?

Mercy Ships-Who Steers the Ship on their Mission of Hope?

As everyone gets settled in to watch the Mercy Ships segment on 60 Minutes, airing TONIGHT, I hope this Q&A can hold you over! Meet Captain Jon Fadely, the man who has been responsible for steering this vessel of hope as it sailed from port to port. Fadely is a graduate of Texas A&M at Galveston with a BS in Marine Science who holds U.S. and Maltese Master's licenses for ships of any tonnage on world oceans.

What are your biggest concerns when you are going into a port for the first time - is there anything that could be a surprise? 

JF: The available depth of water at the assigned berth, or unknown underwater obstructions along the route to the berth. Also, the effectiveness of the harbor pilot and any assisting tug-boats in guiding the docking maneuvers of the ship.Finally, the attitudes and requirements of the port authorities when processing the legal formalities for port entry, with Customs and Immigration.

How many people do you require to man the ship?

JF: To safely navigate the Africa Mercy on an ocean voyage of several days, we need a minimum of 30 professional mariners, including cooks and stewards.  To effectively conduct the mission of the ship, we need about 400 crew members, including our medical staff.

How does the ship operate? How much fuel will Mercy Ships need for this upcoming trip? 

JF: The ship operates like a small town; all of the essential community functions are addressed in some form or fashion, with a combination of advanced technology and highly skilled and motivated personnel. The Africa Mercy burns about 32 tons of fuel per day at sea, which is a little more than one full tanker truck load. For the voyage from the shipyard in the Canary Islands to Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, which should take about 13 days, we expect to need about 416 tons of fuel, or about 129,000 gallons, or about 14 tanker truck loads.

This is arduous work, what do people do to unwind on the ship?

JF: The satellite Internet link allows crew to stay connected with friends and family back home while they are on board.  The ship's library has a good variety of reading material and several movies on DVD.  Crew members can work out in the exercise gym, share good conversation in the cafe, or simply spend a few quiet moments out on deck.  Community social activities are organized regularly on board.  While the ship is in port, shore excursions are possible, whether to enjoy a local restaurant, find a bargain in the street markets, or explore the natural beauty of Africa.

Was there ever an incident where you felt due to the political climate, the ship was in danger, either en route to its port or at the port? 

JF: While we do our best to assess and avoid high-risk situations, we recognize that the nature of our work leads us to areas of the world which are less stable and more politically fragile than most.  Election seasons in developing nations can be especially fraught with uncertainty and unrest.  Street demonstrations have caused us to curtail our shore-based activities from time to time.  Although we have not yet had to evacuate the ship and crew from a country for political unrest, we do plan and prepare for just such an emergency situation.

2 Responses

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    • Dana Perino
      Thank you so much! So happy to hear you enjoy it!

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