Credit by Illustration ©
Blazing the Seas, Saving Lives
PEOPLE Indonesia

Blazing the Seas, Saving Lives

By: Ahmad Cholis Hamzah*

Indonesia with its archipelagic nature and approximately 17,000 islands has its own problems when it comes to the issue of delivering social services to its population that is scattered around the islands. Indeed, delivering health services for example to remote islands is a big challenge. A handful of medical doctors – alumni of school of medicine Airlangga University in Surabaya have special concern on how to cope the said problem. They routinely gathered together to discuss and identify problems and finally produced a brilliant idea! That is a floating hospital that could serve health services to people in the remote islands. Such idea received a strong support from the Alumni Association of Airlangga University.

This floating hospital is really Indonesia as it was built by professional traditional ship builders in Takalar sub-district, South Sulawesi province, the place of well-known ethnic group Bugis sailors for decades. It has 117 DWT, 30 meters long and 7.2 meter breath and medical equipment inside. Alumni agreed to name it “Floating Hospital – Ksatria Airlangga”; Kstaria is a Sanskrit language means “Knight”. Obviously, it is not the only floating hospital in Indonesia as Indonesian Navy has a bigger one. However, Ksatria Airlangga is probably the only floating hospital in the country in term of its small size.

Source :
Source :

On September 15, 2017, the ship conducted its maiden health services to Bawean Island and several months later to an island in Sumenep Madura (Sumenep is one of four sub-districts in Madura that has more than 100 small Islands), then in Surabaya (all of these places are in East Java province).

This year, amid public debate on whether continuous earthquakes recently that hit Lombok Islands of West Nusa Tenggara should be declared by national government as a national disaster or not, the ship on August 2018 embarked from Surabaya Port encountering high waves along the way heading to Lombok Islands to provide health services to the victims of earthquakes. With 91 human resources that consist of doctors from various medical fields including students and 6 crews have been working day and night on board the ship and in a big tent nearby to receive patients with all kinds of health concerns. On October 2018, the ship plans to extend its health services to several Islands including remote places in Eastern Indonesia.

Floating hospital |
Floating hospital |

Alumni of school of medicine has an interesting and brilliant idea regarding the role of the ship – apart of its main function as a floating hospital it could be used as a research center where alumni of other disciplines like social sciences conduct researches on social issues such as poverty, education, economic growth, local economic development etc. from their perspective in areas where the ship disembarks. It could become an Integrated Social Services center where researches are able to identify social problems, provide solutions and submit their findings to government.

If we see the ship from the size point of view, this floating hospital is a “tiny” ship as compared – for example to floating hospital belonging to United States of America a 272.49 meters long USNS (United Stated Navy Ship) Mercy or a 122 meters long Dr. Soeharto hospital ship belonging to Indonesian Navy. While Ksatria Airlangga is only a 30 meters long ship.

However, judging from its paramount role the ship has noble social activities, therefore it is a small ship with big heart.


*Alumni of Airlangga Uiversity and
University of London,
Special staff of Rector of Airlangga University
On International Affairs.


What do you think?

Give a comment