North Star Engineers, a global leader in the field of specialist audio visual (AV) design and installation for cruise ships, museums and attractions, is behind the ship-wide AV system design and installation of the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Global Mercy® – the newly built vessel of Mercy Ships. The project has been designed and delivered from the head office of North Star Engineers in the city of York, England.
Mercy Ships is an international charity providing a team of volunteer nurses, doctors, surgeons and other crew from all over the world.
The Global Mercy was docked and open for physical and virtual tours in the Port of Rotterdam between 26 February-14 March 2022, before setting sail on 15 March for Granadilla Tenerife to continue outfitting in preparation for service within West Africa, the first of many new missions expected over the next 50 years.
The team at North Star Engineers has been responsible for all ship-wide technology system design, specification, procurement management, site supervision and project management, integration and programming.
Damian Andrews, technical director at North Star Engineers, notes, “Since 2013, we’ve had dream to provide AV technology for the first purpose built non-governmental hospital ship, providing medical care to some of the world’s poorest countries. In 2014, we had the honour of meeting with the team at Mercy Ships in Miami for the very first time and began the process of exploring and developing technology system for the new ship.”
North Star Engineers has designed, procured and commissioned all AV systems onboard outside of the engine spaces including cabins, offices, conference rooms, restaurants, lounges, training rooms, auditorium, hallway signage and wayfinding, treatment rooms, operating theatres and training facilities. To date, North Star Engineers has have donated over £1.5million in products and services to the project.
“The way in which the technology is being used has been designed in such a way as to streamline the ship and medical operations therefore allowing the staff to treat more patients during each mission. Due to the charitable nature of the project the design had to continuously evolve as manufacturers made donations which in turn would change the overall design requirement. Also, as the client and shipyard had never built a ship of this kind the design continues to be adapted as the vessel construction progresses and structural changes are made.”
“Working closely with many generous technology manufacturer partners, we were able to make this dream a reality.”
Key technology manufacture suppliers and supporters to the project include:
- NEC (US) who donated all displays and TV’s.
- QSC who provided Q-SYS Audio Components and speakers at a heavily discounted rate.
- Kramer AV who supplied all video switching and distribution at a discounted rate.
- All lighting equipment is Martin who offered a small discount.
- Barco have agreed to supply AV control system in the form of their Overture product.
“Where possible, to keep costs to a minimum, standard hardware components have been used – however the way in which they are used within each system has been customised to meet the unique challenges of such a vessel as Global Mercy. Another factor that we had to take into consideration is that when in operation the ship will only have a small AV team of just 1 or 2 people, and so everything has to be easily controlled and monitored from a central or mobile location. The systems can also be monitored in the ships operations centre in Texas.”
Andrews continues, “Our ultimate goal is to help clients understand what is possible from technology, and how they can enrich the services that they provide for the end user, with the application of intelligently designed solutions.
North Star Engineers’ CEO, Sir Edgar Andrews said, “The difference this ship will make to thousands of lives will be immeasurable. We are very proud to play our part.”
“Mercy Ships has the potential, within a generation, to help rewrite the healthcare narrative in Africa,” shared Don Stephens, Founder, Mercy Ships. “We can train medical professionals and upgrade the quality of hospitals and clinics — all while saving lives. Imagine the hope and healing provided by this unique new ship!”
Largest private hospital ship in the world
The Global Mercy is a unique ship in the passenger class: 174 metres long, 28.6 metres wide and a gross tonnage of 37,000. It has 6 operating rooms, 200 beds, a laboratory, general outpatient clinics and eye and dental clinics. The total area of the hospital department is 7,000 m².