Wednesday, December 02, 2009
The ministry of OM’s Doulos ship is to end on 31 December 2009 after surveys by the ship’s classification society (RINA) during the vessel’s annual dry dock maintenance period found it required substantial improvements. These investigations have revealed significant additional work needed on the ship’s structure which must be completed before the vessel’s certificates, due to expire at the end of 2009, can be renewed. The projected cost is over €10 million, an amount that OM Ships International is unwilling to invest in a ship that is already 95 years old. Officially the world’s oldest ocean-going passenger vessel, Doulos’ age was already a source of considerable interest and media attention. Launched in 1914 as Medina, OM obtained and renovated the ship for Christian mission service in 1977. Renamed Doulos (Greek for ‘servant’), the vessel has come to be respected around the world and brought knowledge, help and hope to ports in over a hundred countries. The ship’s educational and Christian book fair has attracted over 20 million visitors during the last three decades, with millions more attending teaching seminars and workshops held on board.The ship’s all-volunteer crew of 300 Christians represent over 40 nationalities. Now the vessel’s decommissioning is confirmed, OM Ships International CEO Peter Nicoll has stated that the immediate priority will be to resettle those individuals and families presently on board. All future ports of call have been cancelled. With the recently launched Logos Hope continuing to attract huge crowds in the Caribbean, OM remains committed to operating a two-ship ministry. Short-term options include temporarily hiring a vessel while a long-term replacement for Doulos is sought. However, the pace of recent developments means these plans are still in the early stages and Peter Nicoll asks partners of OM Ships to remain in prayer. Donations designated ‘Doulos Project’ can be given online at www.omships.org/donate.