Flotte Hamburg GmbH & Co. KG

Ships belonging to the river police, fire-fighting vessels, dredgers, barges and lots more – there are plenty of ships united under one flag: the Flotte Hamburg (Hamburg fleet). Being a GmbH & Co. KG, it is a 100% subsidiary to fulfil the integral fleet management of the ships of the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg.

Learn about what belongs to the fleet, what’s its drive, why it’s a pioneer in environmental protection, who charters their ships and lots more.

OUR TIP: Check out our Interview “People at the HPA” with the managing directors of the Hamburg fleet Christopher Braun and Karsten Schönewald. Click here.


By Karsten Schönewald, Managing Director of the Hamburg Fleet

A typical day for the Hamburg fleet begins in the morning with the departure of the various vessels for depth-sounding and survey work, inspection rounds and supporting the maintenance units. Pilot transfer services are in operation around the clock and bring the Elbe and Port pilots to and from the seagoing vessels. The cable grab dredgers and associated logistics chain with tugs and barges work in a two-shift operation. This means that our ships can be found everywhere in the port and at any time. The fleet administration located at the Überseebrücke and the Speicherstadt district ensures a smooth operation and is always available to customers as a point of contact. Bareboat charter customers such as the police and fire brigade staff the boats with their own personnel and call upon the fleet’s technical or operational service network when necessary. Work continues to be carried out on the further development of the fleet and there is constant coordination with suppliers and partners.

In case of an icing of the Elbe during winter, we need to adapt our processes to the current conditions. We focus all our capacities on the icebreaker service which we also take the responsibility for. 7 of our ships are applicable as icebreakers and therefore will be used round the clock. At the same time, we maintain the pilot transfer service as well as a ship for the Harbour Master’s Division. Of course, we also support police and firefighters. The icebreaker service is put before any other tasks. 

Fast Facts

The Hamburg fleet is a full-service provider where vehicles and devices can be rented as demise charters or with qualified personnel. But how was it created? What does it do? Who’s behind it? Learn more about the background.  

…dates back to a Senate resolution from April 2016. The Senate decided to merge the previously separate fleets of the HPA, fire brigade, water police and LSBG (Federal authority for roads, bridges and water) in one overarching municipal fleet management overseen by the HPA. At the same time, the fleet management was tasked with replacing the Hamburg fireboat fleet. After a project phase of approximately one year, the preparations were completed and the fleet management was able to commence its operations on 1 July 2017. To enable corporate activity which is as autonomous as possible, as well as to ensure a high degree of transparency, the fleet management was simultaneously spun off as a subsidiary of the HPA in a GmbH & Co KG.

… of the Hamburg fleet is the operation and chartering of ships and floating facilities with and without personnel. We see ourselves as a comprehensive fleet manager for the municipal inland ships of the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg. We stand for high levels of availability, transparency and cost stability. We create value out of synergies. Besides we see ourselves as a pioneer in environmental protection and we strive for digitalization.

… contains about 50 ships as of right now. Except for a few exceptions this sums up the ports inland ships. In addition, we operate 2 dredgers, a barge suction station as well as 40 barges.

… are about 40 employees. Crews, meaning skippers and ship’s mechanics, amount to the biggest share. These employees work round the clock on 165 days a year to keep the Port of Hamburg running. A small and efficient panel looks after disposal, maintenance management, new building project and administration.


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.

The first column focuses on innovative fuels. For example, we achieved to switch to the fuel GTL (gas to liquid) for the most part. This fuel emits less nitrogen oxide and considerably less fine dust compared to diesel.

The second column comprises the principle to only build ships with exhaust-gas aftertreatment in the future. Therefore, the new firefighting vessel will be delivered with particulate filters and nitrogen catalysators.

The third column pays attention to exhaust-gas aftertreatment for existing ships.

The fourth column deals with innovative drive concepts. In detail, the two new smaller firefighting vessels will most likely be equipped with battery buffered diesel-electronic hybrid-drives. Besides, we consider using fully-electronic launches as well as Methanol engines and fuel cells.

The fifth column pays attention to environmentally friendly shipping operations. For example, we already began training our skippers in driving energy-efficient.


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.

In Addition, Christopher Braun is a member of the management board of CGH Cruise Gate Hamburg GmbH (https://www.cruisegate-hamburg.de/en).

Telephone number: +49 40 4 28 47-52 97

E-mail: flotte@hpa.hamburg.de


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.

Telephone number: +49 40 4 28 47-52 97

E-mail: flotte@hpa.hamburg.de