Catholic Herald Reporter AN F W organisation headed by Group Captain Cheshire, V.C., is planning to buy a ship which will sail on missions of mercy in SouthEast Asia, helping to relieve disease, hunger and poverty.
The organisation, known' as the United Kingdom White Fleet, is a branch of an international movement which is aiming to form a "mercy task force" of ships to help the peoples of undeveloped parts of the world.
It is a development of an idea put forward five years ago by Capt. Frank Manson. U.S.N., who is now serving in London at the U.S. Naval Headquarters.
The British ship will be a smaller equivalent of the American hospital ship Hope, which is at present providing medical and other aid along the coast of Peru It will carry a staff of eight doctors, 12 technicians and 20 nurses, and will act as a floating aid-base and transporter for missionaries and peace corps working in places normally inaccessible from the air. It will also be geared to go to the rescue of areas hit by typhoons and other calamities. Possible ports of call are already being studied. Capt. Manson told me this week: "The immediate aim of the British ship will be to stern disease and poverty, but the longterm role will be teaching, especially in the field of agriculture and preventive medicine; this will be the 'legacy' the ship will leave in each port of call.
" Closed circuit television might be used to widen the audience at lectures, with sets being taken by road to communities near the port in which the ship is lying," Capt. Manson added.
"Before pulling in to port, we'll have prior information on what the problem is there and will take all the tools to do the job. The ship could have on hand much more equipment for demonstration purposes and field tasks than could possibly be carried out in an aircraft."
Prominent men in Far East shipping circles are working with the organising committee, and the Dexion Steel Corporation has already offered to huild a clinic free of charge in a port of call selected as most needy during the ship's first voyage.
Letters appealing for funds to finance the ship are to be sent shortly to factories and business houses. Several convent schools have already started collecting on their own initiative.
• The address for donations is: The Treasurer, U.K. White Fleet Committee, cio 7 Market Mews, London, W.I.