Interview with Captain Clemens Heinrich - How the “Chicago Express” makes use of its time at anchor

After every challenge, it is exciting to find out how it was tackled, which hurdles were overcome, and which success factors were involved. We spoke with Captain Clemens Heinrich of the “Chicago Express”, which will be lying at anchor for the next few weeks. In the interview, he explains how he and his crew will put this time to good use.

You just switched to the “Chicago Express”, and you will spend the weeks ahead “in the roads”. Where exactly are you and the ship right now, and what’s the plan for these few weeks?

That’s correct; I just took command of this ship. But we are sailing a “blank sailing” – which means that we aren’t sailing at all, but rather lying at anchor for the duration of a round voyage. We will do so for four weeks. However, we are thinking about whether we should sail to England at the end of the month to pick up some empty containers and then take them to the Mediterranean. Then we will presumably go back into the Atlantic Loop 6 (AL6) service in mid-October. At the moment, we are in the Mediterranean off the coast of the Northern Italian port city of La Spezia.

How are you making use of this time?

We are mainly using this time to perform maintenance work on the ship, on the deck and in the engine room. The good weather here is a big advantage for us, as it will make it possible for us to do a lot of the work that we need to do.

This will include removing rust and doing preservation work on the superstructures and the hatch covers as well as doing maintenance work on the ship’s safety equipment. Since we don’t have any cargo on board at this time, we will also clean the holds. On top of that, our to-do list includes taking inventory of the lashing equipment and making a list of the repairs that need to be done during our next time in dry dock.

We will also perform a general survey in the engine room, such as by taking control measurements of bearings and mechanical components. What’s more, we will do some cleaning in places that are hard to reach while in operation and do some maintenance on a range of equipment, such as the auxiliary power units, compressors and auxiliary diesel engines.

The special thing about our ship is that we currently have 12 apprentices on board in addition to our regular crew. So, now they are getting a chance to familiarize themselves in detail with all the parts of the ship and to lend us a hand in our cleaning and maintenance efforts. They are also receiving theoretical and practical instruction on ship safety, terrestrial navigation, handling lines, and operating windlasses and anchor gear.

What other activities have you planned to keep your crew in high spirits?

We have plans to hold some table tennis and foosball tournaments. And we will definitely get the grill fired up a few times. It is over 30 degrees here right now! We have already filled up the swimming pool, which provides us with some cool refreshment from time to time. So, we’ll definitely be able to cope with the four weeks well.

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