A cargo vessel whose home port has been Tauranga for the past nine years will now be recommissioned as a medical aid ship and travel to some of the remotest islands in the Pacific thanks to one couple’s generous donation.
The 48m-long ship formerly known as Claymore II used to carry supplies to Pitcairn Island four times a year. But when that contract with the British Government ran out recently, owners Nigel and Brenda Jolly from Stoney Creek Shipping Company Ltd decided to gift the ship to Christian humanitarian organisation YWAM Ships Aotearoa (Youth With A Mission) rather than sell it.
“I bought that boat specifically to do that job,” Mr Jolly explains. “There are no other jobs like that in New Zealand or the Pacific. Even though it’s a big strong boat, it’s not the ideal boat for us to take to Antarctica for our other work. So my decision to donate her to YWAM is out of a desire to see the boat looked after and do something that I can be proud of.
“I want to see this ship carry on and be used rather than sitting here rusting while it has no work.”
The ship has now been formally handed over to YWAM Ships Aotearoa and will soon go into dry dock for maintenance before being relaunched as a medical aid ship. The exact Pacific Islands we will serve are yet to be determined but Brett Curtis, Chairman of YWAM Ships Aotearoa, says the most difficult to reach and isolated islands, those without airports, are being considered.
“This ship has the capacity to carry containers, supplies, crew and volunteers to assist with everything from education to medical and developmental projects.
“The Pacific islands scattered across this great liquid continent are the most geographically challenging islands on planet Earth. The vast majority have no airstrips and no bridges connecting them so the only way to reach them is via ship.”
Shipping containers can be converted into medical or dental clinics, operating theatres and x-ray units, among other things. “Most of the work we do is in the villages themselves. We anchor close to shore and can then provide primary health care, preventative medicine such as vaccinations, oral health checks and eye examinations to these remote communities.”
Curtis says YWAM believes everyone should have the right to the basic necessities of life including access to food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education for their children. “Our mission is to bring access for all people, in every location, no matter how isolated or small their island is. This is why we use ships.”
YWAM is a global movement that has operated ships since 1978. Curtis and his wife, Karen, hail from Te Puke and have travelled to 72 countries on Christian humanitarian missions since they first became involved in 1983.
“When you show kindness to someone who didn’t expect it, or you help restore someone’s vision, it changes their life and that makes every day worth the effort,” Curtis says.
Donations are now being sought from the New Zealand business, church and medical communities to help fit out the ship and a nationwide port tour is being planned.
The re-naming of the ship is also an important next step and YWAM is seeking suggestions from the public. They’re also looking for marine, general and medical volunteers to join them. Anyone who is interested in donating or volunteering can get in touch via their website YWAM Ships Aotearoa
“This vessel opens a new season of New Zealanders helping our Pacific Rim neighbours with Ships. It is amazing what can be accomplished when we all work together. When everyone is a volunteer, donations are given, and a host nation opens up ports free of charge, it all comes together creating a remarkable impact on some of the most remote villages you can imagine,” Curtis says.
“Nigel and Brenda Jolly have been most generous with the donation of this vessel. We are all looking forward to seeing this ship deployed from New Zealand, supported by Kiwis who want to make a difference in our own backyard of the Pacific.”