Applied Weather Technology (AWT) announced that Mercy Ships, operator of hospital ships delivering free, health care services to the poor, recently used the latest version of AWT’s BonVoyage System (BVS) to help the Africa Mercy navigate the safest and most fuel-efficient course while en route to the ship’s current assignment in Benin, West Africa. AWT first began donating the BVS graphical marine voyage optimization system to Mercy Ships in 2000, and since that time has continued to provide Mercy Ships with complimentary data, system upgrades and support.
Mercy Ships’ Captains and navigation crew use BVS to check weather and sea conditions to help ensure crew and vessel safety, and prevent encounters with inclement weather that could damage sensitive medical equipment on board. Mercy Ships serves the urgent surgical needs of the world’s poor and has performed more than 41,000 life-changing operations since 1978.
“Hospital equipment is highly susceptible to damage. We’re loaded with a CT scanner and X-ray machines that are not designed for being bounced around,” said Captain Tim Tretheway, Master of the Africa Mercy, the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship. “We use BVS to find the routes with the most moderate conditions and then we’ll take those routes. It’s simple to check conditions ahead. You flip on the flat screen with BVS and it’s easy to get a complete, real time picture of the weather by simply moving the mouse over a specific location. In addition to wind, pressure and sea conditions, we highly value the NCOM current data. In my experience, we have had fewer problems due to inclement weather because there has been more and better weather information available to us thanks to AWT.”
“The biggest advantage of BVS for Mercy Ships is definitely crew, vessel and medical equipment safety,” said Jon Fadely, current Marine Operations Director and former Mercy Ships Captain, who used BVS for several years aboard the Caribbean Mercy, one of the Mercy Ships that is now retired. “We sought out BVS because we were looking for a way to stay better advised of weather, particularly during hurricane season. BVS has a wonderful way of turning words into pictures, and the data comes to us independent from the Internet, which is important because Internet communications on board ships can be unreliable and expensive.”
On board the Africa Mercy, which arrived in February for a 10-month assignment in the West African country of Benin where four thousand people recently lined up at the ship with hopes of receiving medical help, Captain Tretheway uses BVS to check the weather conditions and alert the medical staff to potential for swaying or motion on the ship while in port.
“The eye surgeons are the ones I worry about – they look through microscopes while doing surgery, so bumping at the dock would be a concern,” said Captain Tretheway.
Captain Tretheway also uses BVS to evaluate potential future voyages under consideration by Mercy Ships’ management and conduct planning as part of preparations before the ship is deployed to a new location.
More than 3,000 vessels use BVS to help identify the safest, most time-efficient or fuel-efficient routes. BVS is an icon-driven graphical marine voyage optimization system that provides ship Captains with onboard and around-the-clock weather-routing information. AWT recently announced the latest update to BVS, Version 5.6, which now provides Captains with advance warning about threats of severe rolling due to resonance, and integrates the latest technology used to determine ocean currents by offering forecast, real time Naval Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM) current data.