Explainer: What is China's Peace Ark hospital ship?

Chen Zhuo
2023-06-02 10:27:42

BEIJING, June 1 (Xinhua) -- You may have heard of those ships voyaging on the sea and providing free humanitarian medical aid. Recently, a reply letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping to Bangladeshi child Alifa Chin, whose mother suffered severe heart problems in labor and was saved by military doctors sent by the visiting "Peace Ark" in 2010, drew attention to the Chinese hospital ship.

The Peace Ark, commissioned into the Chinese Navy in 2008, is among the helpful ships. What is the Peace Ark? How special it is? What has it done? Let's take a close look at the ship.


The Peace Ark hospital ship, known as Heping Fangzhou in Chinese, is the country's first standard ocean-going hospital ship and the world's first 10,000-ton-level professional hospital ship.

Weighing 14,300 tonnes and independently designed by China, it is identified in the People's Liberation Army Navy as Daishan Dao, equipped with cutting-edge medical technologies.

Painted white with red crosses to mark it as a hospital ship, the Peace Ark is one of a handful of vessels in the world that are not converted from other types of ships and was specifically designed for medical purposes from scratch, unlike others which are remodeled from oil tankers.

The ship's hospital equipment is on par with some top medical facilities in China. The crew includes some of China's leading medical experts and professionals in neurology, gastroenterology, physiotherapy, traditional Chinese medicine, infectious diseases, reconstructive surgery and burns.

It has over 100 medical staff working in dozens of clinical and auxiliary departments, harbors multiple operating rooms, nursing stations and exam rooms, thus being capable of accommodating roughly 1,000 patients at once and diagnosing and treating various illnesses.

Upholding the principle of building "a community with a shared future for humanity" and "a maritime community with a shared future," the hospital ship aims at bringing much-needed medical care to people from around the world free of charge.


So far, the Peace Ark has set sail on 10 overseas missions in its 15-year-old voyage. Instead of having patients brought to the hospital, the ark comes to cure patients who are in dire need.

Having visited 43 countries and regions, the love spreading ark has provided medical services to more than 250,000 people.

Carrying out a series of the multinational humanitarian mission dubbed Harmony, it has sailed more than 260,000 nautical miles, which is equivalent to circling the equator 11 times, since its commission in 2008.

The Peace Ark has left its footprints all over six continents and three oceans. From Djibouti, one of the least economically developed countries in the world, to Sierra Leone which suffered from ravaging Ebola, and to the Philippines which experienced the fatal Typhoon Haiyan, the voyaging hospital has brought medical support to those in dire need, dispatching anti-pandemic materials and vaccines to people in need, and aiding countries battered by natural disasters.

During its latest mission in Indonesia, with 111 medical staff from a naval medical university, the medical team conducted 13,488 diagnoses and performed 37 surgeries in just seven days. The medical personnel also helped deliver a baby on the ship, marking the seventh newborn on the ark.

Well equipped with a magnetically guided capsule endoscope, an intravenous anesthesia robot, a new type of portable endoscope and other sophisticated medical apparatuses, the Peace Ark enabled medical staff to diagnose and treat complicated diseases on board.

The Peace Ark's humanitarian diagnosis and treatment services overseas bespeak the Chinese people and military's love of peace and respect for life.

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