MOSBACH, Germany Logos Hope, Operation Mobilization's newest vessel, departed from Shipyard Trogir, Croatia, Nov. 8 after completing a two-year conversion project, thanks to $31 million in donations.
The vessel is heading to Kiel, Germany, for final outfitting before being launched into service.
"We are one major step closer to a dream that we started dreaming years ago to create more space and opportunity for our visitors to experience the love of God," Bernd Gülker, chief executive officer of OM ships International, said in a news release.
The Faroe Islands-registered Logos Hope will be used to transport vital literature resources, aid supplies and an all-volunteer crew committed to serving port communities worldwide.
Funding for the renovation project was provided through individuals, churches, trusts and other community groups.
During its port time in Croatia, the ship's deck was replaced, the bridge was rebuilt and upgrades to the vessel's ventilation and sprinkler systems were completed.
In addition to the shipyard work, other upgrades were completed by volunteer professionals and other willing hands. As it moves into its final preparation, the organization is seeking additional skilled workers and continued donations.
In Kiel, the vessel's visitor center will be furnished, as well as other onboard community facilities and public areas. The final stage is expected to take six months. Limited tours will be offered during its docking time in Kiel.
"The arrival of Logos Hope in Kiel will be a great milestone toward the completion of the project," said Logos Hope Project Director Lloyd Nicholas, based in Australia. "We look back with thankfulness for the Lord's mercy and faithfulness. People, finance, plans and prayers have come together to make this day a reality. And we look forward with confidence that Lord will continue to lead us. We can see the moment approaching when the ship will begin active service."
Purchased in April 2004, Logos Hope offers significantly larger capacity to serve port communities around the world. Officials said that onboard resources on existing OMSI vessels Logos II and Doulos are overstretched, with thousands of visitors daily.
OM hopes to officially launch the vessel next spring with 400 volunteer staff and crew, who will live and work on board. Applications to join the crew are now being accepted.
OMSI began in 1970 as part of the global Christian training and outreach movement, Operation Mobilization. The crew and staff of 500, including professional seafarers, are all non-salaried volunteers.
More than 70 nationalities are represented on board. They have assisted more than 37 million people who have visited the ships at over 490 different ports in 155 nations. Crew members are unified by their faith and goal to share God's love as they serve in port communities. The ships remain in port for several weeks and open the gangways to thousands of visitors every day.
In addition to its floating book fair of 6,000 titles, the ships also bring aid and relief to needy people and places around the world. Crew members go ashore to provide medical aid, help construct schools, orphanages and homes, and give gifts of food, clothing and books. Teams also visit hospitals, orphanages and prisons to share God's compassion and love.
Operational costs are met by sponsorship of onboard personnel, general gifts, reductions and waivers of fees by civic and port authorities, book sales, and corporate support in each port of call.