On maiden voyage with "Berlin Express" - Interview of the Week with Lara Marie Habedank

Lara Marie Habedank did not think twice, when she was asked to be part of the crew as nautical watch officer for the maiden voyage of the "Berlin Express". In our Interview of the week we asked the 27-year old, how she likes the ship, what is special about it's first voyage and if she looks already forward to the christening on 2 October 2023 in Hamburg.

What did you think when you heard that you would be picking up the Berlin Express as a crew member?

When I was asked if I would like to join the new Berlin Express at the end of May as a nautical watch officer and help bring her into service from the shipyard in South Korea, I was very excited. You don't often get the chance to help put a newbuilding into service. It was clear to me that this assignment would bring many new tasks, experiences and challenges. I wouldn't want to miss this experience.

How do you experience the ship on its maiden voyage?

As I was already on board during the gas trial, I had the chance to familiarise myself with the bridge before I went on bridge watch alone for the first time. This was really helpful with regard to the handling and manoeuvring capabilities of the ship. I was also able to familiarize myself with the new equipment and the associated sounds.

As a watch officer, you have different areas of responsibility that offer different perspectives on the ship. I am assigned as a safety deputy, which means I spend a lot of time on deck in addition to the bridge watch. It's basically about keeping all the safety equipment in good working order. On the newbuilding, of course, everything first has to be set up, tested and checked on the basis of the specifications and plans. In addition, we watch officers are assigned to the manoeuvring stations during docking and casting off to arrange the line handling. Once in port, it's on to cargo watch. This involves controlling the cargo operations. This includes, among other things, the mooring and unloading as well as the control of the reefers, the dangerous goods containers and, with completion, also the control of twistlocks and lashing. In addition, as Medical Officer, I am responsible together with the captain for the shipboard hospital, which also had to be set up and equipped.

So you work almost everywhere on the ship – except in the engine?

I am jointly responsible for many areas, including the safety equipment in the engine. Many administrative tasks that are less visible are the responsibility of the on-board management. What can be said in any case: With the new size of the ship, the routes become longer, we have to take care of more material and the tasks take up more time. To do my job properly, I therefore get a lot of practical support from the boatman (bosun) and our sailors.

It is important that you feel comfortable as a crew on board. What are you still missing?

Basically, mutual respect is especially important. If the interaction, the communication, the food and the cleanliness are right, you have already won a lot. There is no question that this is the case here on board. With the current sequence of ports and the upcoming tasks, you definitely fulfill your target as far as movement is concerned. Nevertheless, I am always happy to have a well-equipped gym on board. I also like to use it together with my colleagues. We already have a table tennis table and the obligatory karaoke facility on board.

How important is sustainable shipping to you?

Sustainability in general is very important to me. The further development of technologies plays a crucial role here. In order to keep research in the field of shipping going, the large shipping companies in particular have to invest in new technologies. Hapag-Lloyd has fulfilled this responsibility by ordering our twelve newbuildings with dual-fuel propulsion. However, this is only a first step on the way to emission-free shipping. I am curious to see how our company and the entire shipping industry will implement the medium-term goal of zero emissions. I am convinced that Hapag-Lloyd will continue to play a leading role here in the future.

What is it like for you as a seafarer? You are the only woman in this crew ...

Until you asked me that question, I hadn't thought about being the only woman on board. It's not a big deal for me, which brings us back to mutual respect. I think with Hapag-Lloyd it is already part of the normal on-board operation that there are women on board. We are treated completely equally here. Often there are two women on a ship at the same time. That's always particularly nice.

Are you looking forward to the first call and the christening in Hamburg?

Since I come from Brunsbüttel in Schleswig-Holstein, I'm always particularly happy to come to Hamburg and thus home. Then I know that my family is standing by the river Elbe in Brunsbüttel and then again later in Wedel, waiting for me. Without question, this port call with the “Berlin Express” on her way to her home port and to her christening is something very special. This time there will certainly be a lot of people watching in Hamburg looking out for our new ship.

What made you decide to go to sea?

My decision to go to sea came gradually. Nobody in my family went to sea. My father often spent months abroad on business, but not as a sailor. I grew up on the Elbe and got into sailing during a project week. So the connection to the water has always been there. After graduating from high school, I initially decided to train as a shipping clerk. Through frequent contact with seafarers and shipping in general, I decided to go to sea after my training and would do it again. The only thing I occasionally miss on board is the Daily Port Report (THB). I then studied in Flensburg and subsequently started as a nautical watch officer with Hapag-Lloyd in October 2021.

Dear Lara, thank you very much for the interview.

Meet Lara Marie Habedank, the skilled nautical watch officer overseeing operations on the maiden voyage of the 'Berlin Express'
A glimpse into the daily responsibilities of Lara Marie Habedank, the nautical watch officer on the 'Berlin Express' maiden voyage.
From navigation to safety protocols, Lara Marie Habedank handles key responsibilities on the maiden voyage of the 'Berlin Express
Routine inspections ...

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