We left Benghazi last night and are due to dock in Misrata shortly.

We’ve currently dropped anchor approximately 12 miles off Misrata. Even at this distance the thud of shelling is clearly audible across the calm and deserted waters.

According to the ship’s owners we’re staying here because they have been told the port itself may be under attack.

As Mediterranean cruises go this is one of the more surreal.  The Red Star ferry is more used plying its trade between Albania and Italy.

26 misrata r 602 Waiting off the coast to enter besieged Misrata

She’s loaded with containers of medical supplies and food desperately needed by the people of Misrata.

They will be exchanged for around a thousand passengers, some of whom will be gravely injured – others simply want to get out.

Below the deck the doctors have already prepared places for treating the large number of trauma casualties they know they will be taking abroad.

One of them has come all the way from the Midlands, using three weeks of his holiday to treat the wounded in Misrata’s one remaining hospital.

He can’t be identified because his family are living in Tripoli, but he says he feels he must come and do what he can.

Like all doctors, he has taken the oath to treat anybody, civilian or soldier, rebel or Gaddafi – whoever needs medical attention.

In the city itself  the rebels pushed Colonel Gaddafi’s forces from the town, but yesterday Misrata came under the most intense shelling for several days.

Colonel Gaddafi’s forces have concealed batteries of Grad rockets and 155mm artillery which they appear to be raining down on Misrata indiscriminately, according to people in the city.

When we dock, the doctors need to head to the hospital to make their triage assessments as fast as they can before transporting people back on board for the 20-hour trip to Benghazi and safety. There is not much time.