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World's largest naval hospital floats into Mombasa with goodies

By | October 15th 2010

By Philip Mwakio

The giant ship glided into the Kilindini channel at 10.00 am to a rousing welcome from ecstatic Kenyan and Chinese nationals who had thronged the picturesque Mama Ngina Drive waterfront.

The crew, all dressed in white ceremonial navy attire stood at attention as a Chinese Navy band played slow music.

Christened the Peace Ark, the ship is the world’s largest floating military hospital. It sailed into Kenya’s coastal town of Mombasa from Djibouti while on its way to provide free medical services to Tanzania, the Seychelles and Bangladesh.

Chinese naval hospital, the "Peace Ark" docks at the Mombasa port on Wednesday.

The 14,300-tonne ship brought Mombasa to a standstill as residents rushed to either seek free medical attention or catch a glimpse of its sophisticated equipment.

With a rescue helicopter on board, the floating wonder has a 300-bed hospital, 32 medical departments and 428 members of staff who include doctors, nurses and crew.

Its Captain hooted twice as two Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) multi-purpose tugboats escorted it to a berth at the Mbaraki Wharf, on Wednesday.

A section of Mama Ngina Drive was turned into a temporary amusement park with Kenyan and Chinese national flags hoisted in honour of the visiting ship.

Diplomatic Relations

National Assembly Speaker, Kenneth Marende and the Chinese ambassador to Kenya, Mr Liu Guangyuan led dignitaries in welcoming the ship’s crew to Kenya.

Guangyuan said the visit help enhance relations between Kenya and China.

"The bilateral relationship between Kenya and China has enjoyed steady growth since our two countries established formal diplomatic relations 47 years ago,’’ the ambassador said.He added: "As a good partner, China will support Kenya’s social and economic development,’’ he said.

One of the nurses, Xneli Wang (left) attends to a patient, Bernard Ogwela in Mombasa. [PHOTO: Omondi Onyango/Standard]

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka will be the second Kenyan VIP to tour the ship today, after Speaker Kenneth Marende. As a requirement, KPA officials presented the ship’s master with a certificate to mark its first call at the harbour. The vessel leaves Mombasa next Wednesday.

Kenyan medics will receive supplementary training on health care during the exercise.

The soldiers will also donate medical supplies, stationery and sports equipment to local hospitals and schools.

Their first mainland clinic was at Koblenz multi-purpose hall that was quickly turned into a ‘temporary hospital’ complete with diagnostic wards.

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