I’ve been wanting to do something for awhile now and I still haven’t found the time, but I thought it would be helpful to make a glossary somewhere on this website. There are some terms that we use within Mercy Ships that are quite specific and may need some defining. So for today’s post I want to start off with a pretty foundational term for us.
Field Service is the period of time that the ship serves in a country. It roughly follows the North American school calendar, usually starting in mid August and going until the beginning of June (about 10 months). Madagascar has been unique in that we are nearing the end of back to back field services there. The few field services prior to Madagascar were in Republic of Congo, Guinea, and Togo.
Due to maritime law and general upkeep of the vessel, the months the ship is not in a field service (June, July, and part of August) we go into a maintenance period. The ship goes into shipyard and maintenance and upgrades are done. Usually every second year, the ship must come completely out of water and goes into something called Dry Dock. The upcoming maintenance period will be in Durban, South Africa. Most of the hospital crew take PTO and return home during the maintenance period.
At the end of July I will meet the ship in Durban and we will sail to our next country of service which is Benin in West Africa.