Floating Hospital Is in Town; Tours of Caribbean Mercy Available

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The Caribbean Mercy, one of three Mercy Ship floating hospitals, has docked in downtown Jacksonville near the Adam's Mark hotel, and free guided tours are available through Nov. 30.

Acquired in 1994, the Caribbean Mercy was transformed from a passenger liner into a floating hospital in Jacksonville. The ship concentrates its efforts on the Caribbean Islands and Central America.

Mercy Ships, a global charity, has operated a growing fleet of hospital ships in developing nations since 1978. The organization has treated more than 200,000 people and delivered more than $25 million worth of medical supplies in that time.

For more information on tour times, call (904) 421-5181.

The Caribbean Mercy is 265 feet long and has 150 volunteers who aid its operations. These are profiles of ship volunteers from the Jacksonville area:

-- Rob and Denise Miller of the Westside joined the Caribbean Mercy in December 2002. As director of human resources onboard, Denise Miller coordinates all volunteers who serve on the ship, while Rob Miller serves as maintenance administrator in the engineering department. Married for 30 years, they moved with their two sons to Jacksonville in 1984 during Rob Miller's 20 years service in the U.S. Marines. As gunnery sergeant, he retired from Blount Island in 1992 and then worked as a Navy contractor for nine years in Jacksonville.

-- Missy Sturney of Mandarin joined Mercy Ships on the Caribbean Mercy for a five-month Discipleship Training School in October 2002. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Sturney graduated with an associate's degree from Florida Community College at Jacksonville. In July, she rejoined the ship to serve in the deck department.

-- Dabney Buckingham of Venetia joined Mercy Ships in August 1995. She has served on the Caribbean Mercy as receptionist, tour guide and sales manager, and on the advance team for the ship's 1997 visit to Jacksonville. From September 1999 to March, Buckingham served as technical secretary and purser until she went on a one-year educational leave of absence from the ship. She continues to be actively involved in Mercy Ships.

-- Tom KenKnight of Arlington joined the Caribbean Mercy in October 1996 to build the operating rooms. …