Planning and execution: two of the Hamburg Port Authority’s (HPA) core competencies, which also come into play during the river parade at the port anniversary festival. The primary contact and planner responsible for the proceedings on the river – the parade director, so to speak – is Heike Masuch from the Chief Harbour Master’s office. For the trained navigator and officer with the ship master’s certificate and her team, the port anniversary is an exercise in showcasing “parade discipline”. In the truest sense. This is because it involves reconciling the entertainment for the visitors with the commercial shipping activities.

Heike Masuch and her team from the Chief Harbour Master’s office have been busy planning the list of participants for the parades and allocating moorings for a long time, whereby the draughts of the ships are often the key criterion. Furthermore, the participant slots and the order of the arrival parade play a crucial role in the planning. As such, the many puzzle pieces came together to form the overall concept of the port anniversary festival, with the astonishing parade of ships as its highlight. For the team from the Chief Harbour Master’s office, there wasn't much time to celebrate after the departure parade – because the planning for the next year starts the day after the end of this port anniversary festival. And this brings another new challenge of showcasing “parade discipline”. 


The arrival and departure parades are surely the highlights of the port anniversary festival. Here, the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) is at the rudder. In order to give you an insight into our duties, we can let you peek behind the curtain of the two large-scale events.

150 ships were on the parade list as official participants. Together with small, private boats, there was a total of approximately 300 ships on the water at the same time in the area for which the HPA is responsible. Cruise ships are not allowed to take part in the arrival parade. This is partly for safety reasons but also because the parade is intended to showcase the colourful mixture of many different types of vessels.

The official starting point of the arrival parade was in front of the nautical centre of the HPA, at the Bubendey Ufer. From here, the parade of ships spanned five to six kilometres as far as the Este estuary at Blankenese, and Mühlenberg.

Parade director Heike Masuch and her team were responsible for the coordination of and communication with the ships. The HPA team was there on site, as were experts from the German Meteorological Service. Despite the many months of planning, there are always challenging factors that can’t be influenced, such as the weather conditions, wind, and tides.

Heike Masuch had mobile access to the HPA’s Port Monitor on site, in order to oversee all of the ships’ movements in the port. The navigator would intervene by radio if there were any ships in the parade travelling too quickly or too slowly. Before the beginning of the parade, there were briefings for the pilots on the larger ships in order to ensure the smooth running of the parade. Moreover, there were emergency tugs and “mooring assistants” available on call.

The leading ship in the arrival parade travelled at a constant speed. It was given a target time for passing the Rickmer Rickmers ship “abeam”. Here, the Mayor of Hamburg then officially opened the port anniversary festival with a speech on Rickmer Rickmers, followed by two chimes of the ship’s bell.

There is a set order for the ships for the departure parade, just like the arrival parade. For spatial reasons, the vessels in the departure parade may not travel in a line. As such, each of the ships was assigned a start cluster (4 areas), where they began their journey.

The departure parade on Sunday began at approximately 6 p.m. The reason: The tide window prior to that time could be used for commercial shipping activities, so as to reduce the impact of the port anniversary events. The parade ran from the port to Teufelsbrück. Some ships embarked on longer journeys directly from the end point. Some of them turned about and travelled back “in” to stay in Hamburg.


Participating ships were not be charged any mooring fees during the port anniversary festival. However, there were still fees for pilots and tugs.


This year, too, the HPA showcased itself at the port festival. At a shared stand managed by Hafen Hamburg Marketing e.V., interested visitors were able to learn more about the universal port and logistics centre of Hamburg with its multi-faceted range of career prospects for new entrants. In a converted event container, we presented our apprenticeships, dual courses of study, trainee programmes, internships, thesis placements, and the many different roles for skilled and managerial workers at the HPA. 

You can see the current job vacancies under “Careers“. 

HPA and the Port Railway on tour

During the Port Anniversary, we 'opened' our tracks for a tour with the historical Port Railway train Fridolin.


One third of all goods transferred in the Port of Hamburg are being transported on rails. The Port Railway of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) provides the necessary infrastructure including its extensive and perfectly timed rail network. There are around 200 freight trains with 5,000 wagons operating on the network daily. 135 railway companies use the Port Railway's network: That's a world record. You could learn more about our work on the occasion of the Port's Anniversary - while travelling with a historical railcar.


The historical railcar which is going to turn 62 this year, had been in on duty until 2005. By then, Fridolin unfortunately had to be closed down due to a damage to the gear box. Thanks to the voluntary work of the association 'Freunde der historischen Hafenbahn' (Friends of the historical Port Railway), the railcar can be driven through the port on special occasions. 


A launch took the participants of the tour from the landing stage Kajen (address: Hohe Brücke 2) to the Hamburg Port Museum. That's where the special trips around the port started. During the journey you learned about exciting innovative projects and masterpieces in terms of structural engineering. You could find out first-hand what it's like to run Europe's largest rail port. On the way, the stretch offered excellent views e.g. on the newly christened Retheklappbrücke as well as the container terminal Altenwerder while you were being looked after. Back at the Hamburg Port Museum, you had the possibility to gain an impression of the port's history or to have a snack. Afterwards a launch or a bus took you back to the landing stage Kajen. 

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