Ferry sets sail for the Amazon to become floating medical centre

Forth Hope on the River Forth. Picture: contributed
Forth Hope on the River Forth. Picture: contributed
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A ferry designed for a five-minute harbour crossing has left Scotland for a 6,600-mile voyage to become a floating medical centre in the Peruvian Amazon.

The 117-feet-long (35m) MV Forth Hope set sail from Rosyth yesterday to provide healthcare in South America, a decade after being built to shuttle commuters between Portsmouth and Gosport in Hampshire.

It was taken over by Vine Trust before being completed and fitted with an ocean-going hull to become the Edinburgh-based international development and volunteering charity’s first brand new vessel.

The ship will travel by ocean and river to reach the remote city of Iquitos in northern Peru in six weeks’ time.

It is expected to provide 100,000 free primary healthcare consultations each year, using on-board facilities including an operating theatre, dental surgery, consultation rooms and pharmacy.

MV Forth Hope will be staffed by medical and dental volunteers from a range of countries, working with local clinicians to serve communities without access to the most basic medical care.

The ship will operate with Amazon Hope 2, the charity’s other Peru-based vessel, to cover 160 communities on the river and its tributaries.

The Princess Royal named the new vessel in Rosyth in May at Babcock’s site, where the firm and 30 other firms supported its fitting out.

It is sailing to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria in the Canary islands off Africa before crossing the Atlantic to Macapa at the mouth of the Amazon in Brazil.

The vessel will then sail up the river across the country and into Peru.

Vine Trust medical programme manager Kenny Holt said: “MV Forth Hope will enable Vine Trust to significantly increase and enhance much-needed primary healthcare services.”

Chief executive Willie McPherson said: “Vine Trust has always sought to make a significant and lasting impact on the people we support, offering effective help to vulnerable and isolated communities living in poverty.

“The delivery of MV Forth Hope to the Amazon will double the current capacity of our Peru medical programme, providing invaluable primary healthcare services to remote riverine villages.”

Babcock Rosyth managing director Ian Donnelly said: “It was a real honour for Babcock to be involved in such a worthwhile project.

“Our team worked really hard to transform MV Forth Hope and everyone involved should be very proud of what they’ve achieved. Our relationship with the trust is further strengthened through our homebuilding partnership, which offers our employees a volunteering opportunity to contribute to its work of providing homebuilding support to communities in severe poverty.”