League City resident makes global impact aboard a hospital ship

Second Officer Colton Coleman with Mercy Ships

Second Officer Colton Coleman with Mercy Ships

A League City resident is making a difference across the world as a volunteer on a private hospital ship docked off the coast of Guinea, West Africa.

Second Officer Coltan Coleman is a deck bridge officer on the largest private hospital ship in the world, the Africa Mercy. It is owned by Mercy Ships, a private company dedicated to providing free health care services to inhabitants in developing nations.

Coleman served four years in the Marine Corps. He attended Texas A&M Maritime Academy where he obtained a degree in maritime transportation. Coleman decided to volunteer with Mercy Ships because he wanted to be part of an organization that helped people in need, he said.

"I wanted to see the world," Coleman said in the release. "On the Africa Mercy there's a kind of camaraderie that we experienced in the Marines. Mercy Ships is doing incredible work for people, and I just love being a part of that."

Coleman said he plans to volunteer for at least year.

"I might go back to sailing and on my off time continue to volunteer here," he told Community Impact Newspaper. "The more you give the more you receive."

The Africa Mercy has 400 crew members and expects to perform over 2,000 free surgeries on patients suffering anything from face tumors to bowed legs. Coleman sailed the Africa Mercy from Las Palmas, Spain, to Conakry, Guinea. He maintains all firefighting gear and ensures all services onboard function correctly.

Jim Paterson, senior vice president of operations for Mercy Ships, said in the release crew members such as Coleman are an essential part of company's mission.

"I don't believe we have ever missed one full day of surgery due to technical issues thanks to our dedicated marine crew. Our mission to provide free surgeries and healthcare training for local medical professionals would be impossible without them," Paterson said.

Coleman encourages other Marines to volunteer with Mercy Ships. Volunteer opportunities are available at apply.mercyships.org.