SHIP AHOY IN HAMBURG’S MOST MARITIME FLEET OF VEHICLES

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.

Name:                         Karsten Schönewald
Bei der HPA:               since 2009
Position:                     Managing Director at Hamburg GmbH & Co. KG

Following his studies at Kassel University, the graduate engineer and welding engineer specialist took on different roles in the infrastructure segment of Deutsche Bahn AG, most recently in management of the DB Netz AG in North Rhine-Westphalia. He joined the HPA at the end of 2009 and was responsible for the railway technology division with the management and implementation of the maintenance and replacement investments of the Hamburg port railway. At the same time he managed the Spreehafen project from 2010 to 2014 for the construction of a new, central maintenance base and the workshop for the port railway. In May 2016 he became head of the HPA fleet and at the same time was responsible for the development and implementation of the overall fleet management for the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in his role as project manager.

In July 2017 Karsten Schönewald was appointed Managing Director of the Fleet Hamburg GmbH & Co. KG.

Name:                         Christopher Braun
Bei der HPA:               since 2017
Position:                     Chairman Flotte Hamburg GmbH & Co. KG

Christopher Braun has built up extensive experience in his various management positions with the Berlin and Hamburg authorities. Before he moved to the Hamburg fleet he had managed the state representation of Hamburg in the Federal government after 18 years in the Berlin Senate Chancellery. He then moved to become the Head of the Hamburg Authority for Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation, where, as head of central administration, his responsibilities included personnel, finances and corporate investment management of the authority, among others.

Christopher Braun became Chairman of the management board on 1 August 2017 and is in charge of running the company, together with his colleague from the board, Karsten Schönewald.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF THE HAMBURG FLEET?

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.'

WHAT DOES BEING A FULL-SERVICE PROVIDER MEAN?

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.'

WHO DRAWS ON THE FLEETS FEATURES?

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.'

WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST TO POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS?

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.'

ARE THERE ANY PRECONDITIONS FOR THE UTILIZATION OF YOUR SERVICES?

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.'

THE FLOTTE SEES ITSELF AS A PIONEER IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

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.'

WHAT DOES THE DIGITALIZATION OF WORK ROUTINES LOOK LIKE?

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.'

WHAT’S AHEAD FOR THE HAMBURG FLEET?

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.'