OM ship unexpectedly decommissioned

By November 24, 2009

Singapore (MNN) — An icon in ministry for nearly 40 years will be coming to an end. Operation Mobilization is being forced to make a difficult decision to decommission the Doulos ship after nearly 40 years of ministry around the world.

Doulos is the world's oldest ocean-going passenger ship, now 95 years old, and faces some very costly repairs. The ship is currently in Singapore for its annual period of dry dock and surveys. Inspections indicate the ship is no longer sea worthy and is in need of costly repairs. In spite of the year-round maintenance that has taken place, the amount of steel replacement and other repairs needed for her to continue sailing are overwhelming.

Early indications are that the work would cost over $14 million and take five months to complete. The OM Ships executive leadership team and board believes that is not appropriate to invest resources of this scale into the ship, since Doulos would have a limited ministry future.

OM's USA President Rick Hicks says they're trying to be good stewards. "That's just more that we can invest in a ship of that age, so we've decided to decommission the ship. With this last survey they've done, they can't do any sailing at all past December 31st."

Hick says this is bad news for their ministry. "Unfortunately, the ministry that we've planned for the Doulos will be cancelled. We really don't have an option on that."

Chief Executive Officer of OM Ships International, Peter Nicoll, said, "This is not what any of us wanted. It has serious consequences for everyone on board, those about to join, and ports we planned to visit."

"We are committed to operating safe ships and complying with the requirements of our classification society, RINA, as well as the International Safety Management requirements for ships," affirms Peter Nicoll. "We have been praying that God would use this five-year ‘special survey' to give us a clear picture of the way forward for Doulos, and He has done that."

Hicks says there's still a big question about what will happen to the Doulos workers. "We have 300 people who serve on the Doulos. We will now need to do something with them. And we need to find out if they want to come back to the home country and serve, or if they want to go to one of our other countries and serve."

Each person will receive the guidance and support they need to decide what their next step should be. Some are close to the end of their period of service, while others joined as recently as September.

Keeping the ship compliant with the highest marine standards has been a real challenge over the years. It is a remarkable testimony to the professionalism and dedication of the non-profit organization's technical personnel that the ship has continued to meet marine requirements until now.

CEO Peter Nicoll stated, "We recognize God's faithfulness through these 32 years of wonderful service of the 'servant' — Doulos — as an outstanding OM ministry, through more than 600 port visits in over 100 countries. Many lives have been transformed, both visitors and those who have served on board.

"We are also deeply grateful to our partners around the world who have supported the ship in ministry through the years. Please continue to pray with us as we work on present challenges and seek the Lord for the future."

Hicks thinks the ship will be replaced in time. He's asking you to pray for OM's ship ministry. "Pray for the funding of this next ship. We do want to replace it. It's a very expensive endeavor, and we're just seeking God's wisdom in that."

If you'd like more information about OM's ship ministry, click here.

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