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Mission ship ‘Ixdos’ not far from her first dip in Phang Nga Bay

Mission ship ‘Ixdos’ not far from her first dip in Phang Nga Bay

Phuket-based charity MissionShip has been building the steel-hulled schooner Ixdos in the grass-green “docks” of the British International School, Phuket’s (BISP) campus for the last three years.


By Zohaib Sikander

Saturday 23 December 2017, 10:00AM


It’s almost 13 years since work first began on the ship and now she is just about ready for her first dip in the waters of Phang Nga Bay – from where she will embark on her mission to save thousands of lives after her launch in early 2018.

“We call it a medical ship and it will be sailing, with an auxiliary engine, to carry trained personnel – including doctors, nurses and teachers – to assist disadvantaged communities on islands all around the world,” said Captain Patrick Vickers, WWII Survivor, retired BISP teacher and the driving force behind the project.

The ship will provide vaccines in accordance with UNICEF’s international campaign, which aims to vaccinate every child in the world from potentially devastating, but wholly preventable, diseases. The plan is now finally within reach due to Captain Pat’s tireless devotion and rigorous oversight of the project.

“The vision of Ixdos came to me when I was working in Papua New Guinea and was reminded of how mission schooners used to operate back in the day, carrying medicine, people and goods between islands,” says Captain Pat.

He added that it was more than a dozen years ago when he first felt this urgent need to bring these mission ships back into regular operation, because although the ships have now disappeared, the medical problems they were tackling have not. So he contacted representatives of the local UNICEF office with a proposal to build his own mission ship, in order to bring much-needed medical supplies and provide treatment to remote island communities. The team at UNICEF, convinced and overjoyed by Captain Pat’s vision, pledged to support the project.

In the meantime, Captain Pat joined BISP as Primary ICT Coordinator, where he stayed for five years before retiring.

“I felt my background as a seaman, coupled with my construction experience could lead to the fulfilment of a dream of mine – to improve the lives of countless deprived islanders in the world. I soon found a naval architect, sourced the necessary steel and materials, and started building. I was delighted by the response from friends and students at BISP,” says Captain Pat.

“Those five long years of working for the health department in Papua New Guinea increased my awareness of the tough conditions which Pacific island folk lived in, and eventually fired me into action. Slowly but surely the dream is coming true. We will soon see the good ship Ixdos launched in readiness for her many missions. Although still not complete, as we do need masts and sails, we have come this far and completion is in sight! May God bless the Ixdos and all who sail in her as we set out on our healing odyssey,” he said with gusto.

Captain Pat certainly hasn’t forgotten the contributions made by dozens of International Bachelaurate Creativity, Activity, Service (IB CAS) students from BISP, who have put in thousands of hours to help get the Ixdos to this point.

“Ship-building was a new idea for our IB CAS students. Although DT (Design and Technology) proficiency helped, it was by no means mandatory. We needed willing hands and that’s what we got. Countless hours, come rain or shine, were spent in every quarter of the ship from the engine-room bilge to upper deck.

"Using first-class Jotun epoxy paint our student teams painted inside and out. Our steel ship is virtually rust-free and rust-proof with its many coats of CAS paint. Thank you CAS students!” he exclaimed.

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“There was a certain bonding and satisfaction which revealed itself in the detailed reflections each student recorded in their log. To be able to say that our ship is being built by children to save the lives of children is huge, and in reality, it’s even more than that.

“Our CAS students have actually taken on board the responsibility to fulfil this dream we all share,” he adds.

KS1 students’ MAD (Making A Difference) initiative held a major fundraiser that brought in more than B60,000. The activity “The Amazing Race”, entailed the students paddling a small boat in the campus swimming pool to see how many laps they could complete in a given time limit.

Local companies have also made notable contributions, for example, Mission Hospital has donated a dental chair which will double as an operating table and an eight kilowatt Kohler generator was donated by C & C Marine.

Captain Pat keeps a long list of people who donated their time, money and expertise to the project and said that he would also like to thank BISP Headmaster Neil Richards and everyone in the BISP community, both past and present, for their ongoing support.

The road to completion has been long and hard for everyone involved, but now it’s finally happening. It will be a three-stage launch:

1 – Departure and send-off from BISP campus in early 2018.

2 – Launch courtesy of Boat Lagoon Phuket in early 2018.

3 – Installation of masts, sails and rigging once funding has been secured.

 

Ixdos is set to sail straight into her first missions in Burma, The Philippines and Papua New Guinea as soon as the final touches are complete. For more information or to make a donation visit the website: missionship.com or email info@bisphuket.ac.th

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