SS Chauncy Maples

SS Chauncy Maples (now MV Chauncy Maples) in a 1905 photo

UK Stamps featuring Queen Elizabeth IIHere’s an interesting card that Sean found whilst boondoggling in Oxford to research his latest tome. “Built in 1898 as a hospital ship, Chauncy Maples needs a complete refit to serve the people around Lake Malawi who have no access to health services.”

It’s an interesting ship, and an interesting endeavor: the vessel was built in Glasgow, shipped to Africa in over 3,000 pieces, hauled upriver by barge and overland by tribesmen, reassembled over the course of two years, then launched on Lake Malawi.  In the last hundred years Chauncy Maples has served as a missionary school, hospital ship, refuge from Arab slave traders, World War I gunboat, and troop carrier.

Now owned by the Government of Malawi and having sat idle and in disrepair for over a decade, she is being refitted for use as a hospital ship once again, mostly through donations.  Malawi needs all the health care improvement it can get; Malawians have a high rate of malaria, dysentery, and AIDS, and the life expectancy is only 36 years.  Eleven people out of every hundred die before the age of five. Chauncy Maples will serve thousands of villagers living on Lake Malawi.

You can read more about the project at the Chauncy Maples website. (Once you’ve done that, check out Sean’s new project Charge of the Write Brigade, a blog dedicated to fiction writing.)

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