Christopher Braun und Karsten Schönewald will probably still remember the famous 70s song “Ein Schiff wird kommen” (“A ship will come”) from their youth. It is a title which takes on a particular significance in their current positions as managing directors of the Hamburg fleet. In their “fleet on the water” it is true that a ship will come as soon as their customers need one. Around 50 ships and 40 barges are provided for bareboat charter or with a crew by the 100% subsidiary of the HPA. Our interview gives an overview of how the fleet is positioned for its customers, environmental protection and for the future.
Christopher Braun: 'We relieve the costumers from their business concerning ship management and owning ships, so they can focus on their actual core tasks. Everybody does what he does best. The 'Flotte' uses the ships in a multifunctional way and for all costumers, so that there partly occur considerable synergies. Under certain circumstances, every costumer can access any ship. Below the line, the same or an even higher performance can be reached with less ships.
The high request for availability of our costumers is always in the foreground. They benefit from higher purchasing volume as well as a paramount maintenance strategy. Transparency towards the costumers as well as a long term lasting stability of the charter rates are very important to us.'
Karsten Schönewald: 'Being a full-service provider means, that we offer specifically coordinated availability for each costumer. For example, we ensure that the police have their needed capacity of ships at their disposal at any time. We look after the provision of redundancy und the entire maintenance. In addition, we are able to cover peak loads like the Port Anniversary. Depending on the costumer, we offer ships including personnel or just as demise charters.'
Christopher Braun: 'At the moment there are various branches of the Hamburg Port Authority (especially Waterside Infrastructure, Technical Division, Port Estate and the Harbour Master’s Division), the river police, the fire department und the 'Landesbetrieb Straßen, Brücken und Gewässer LSBG'. But we also serve costumers beyond that.'
Christopher Braun: 'New costumers can contact our branch 'Flottenservices' to receive perfectly suiting offers and corresponding agreements on the use of ships. The existing costumers are looked after by the branches 'Flottenbetrieb' and 'Flottentechnik'. There are contacts available at any given time.'
Christopher Braun: 'In general, we are the fleet management of all municipal ships of the Port of Hamburg. Therefore, our costumers usually are authorities, institutions and companies of the FHH. Nonetheless being part of the municipal administration is not a precondition to become a costumer.'
Karsten Schönewald: 'During the same time of the senate decision to found a municipal fleet management, there was a community-minded demand to align the fleet in being a pioneer in environmental protection.
The Hamburg fleet faces a 5-columns-concept. It includes innovative fuels, extensive exhaust-gas aftertreatments during the construction of prospective ships as well as existing ships, further development of innovative drive concepts as well as environmentally friendly shipping operations.'
Christopher Braun: 'In the field of digitalization we are still at the beginning. We collected all work routines of the 'Flotte', documented them and are now examining them regarding potentials for digitalization.
In the field of performance recording, calculation and disposal we have already implemented IT-systems where we used to work with paper. Finally, we equipped all ships with tablets which we integrated into our new systems environment. We still see great potentials which we would like to use in the future.'
Karsten Schönewald: 'We continuously develop the fleet in line with demand. Our current main emphasis lies on the renovation of Hamburgs firefighting vessel fleet. We plan to put the new big firefighting vessel into operation over the course of this year.
This vessel is specifically equipped for the request of the fire department and can keep up with standards of other seaports. At the same time, we began planning two more firefighting vessels which don’t only raise the fire departments efficiency but are also applicable for checks of bridges. One of these ships will be constantly occupied by the fire department, the other one will routinely carry out other tasks but can still be made available to the fire department at any given time.'