From a fishing boat to the "Berlin Express" - Navigational Officer Romil Lomoljo

Romil Lomoljo is part of the "Berlin Express" maiden voyage crew. For the Officer on the Watch it is a great privilege to put this 400 m mega containership together with his colleagues on board into service. His enthusiasm for shipping began in his father's fishing boat.

You can sea the ocean from our house. We live on the island Palawan in the Philippines. My granddad and my dad have been fishermen. They had their own boat. It was 6 meters long. On the weekends in my childhood I went out with my dad. My brothers and sisters were not interested in the sea. Only me. So I became a seafarer and am working since 2014 on Hapag-Lloyd ships. I am now a Navigational Officer, the so called Officer of the Watch. Every day at sea I do my bridge watch on the “Berlin Express” from 12 to 4, day and night.

Every time, when I go onto a new ship, my grandfather asks me: “How big will it be?”. He was amazed, when he heard, I will go on a containership, that had a size of 333 meters. Then he heard, I will steer a vessel of 366 meters. You can imagine, how deeply impressed he was, when I told him: “I will be part of the crew, bringing the new ship of Hapag-Lloyd the ‘Berlin Express’ into service. She will be 399 meters long.” It is hard for them to imagine. I show them pictures and videos. My dad would very much like to come and visit me once on the ship. He is interested how big the bridge is and how big the propeller, since he is only used to his small fishing boat.

I learned a lot from my dad and grandfather. They taught me how to read the clouds, to read the waves and to understand the stars. Because this is the same for small boats as well as for container vessels. At the same time, they are eager to understand, how is navigating and steering possible, while far away from shore. I try to explain to them, that technology is advancing and supporting the seafarers to find their way to the next port, avoiding bad weather and other obstacles.

For Romil new ships are exciting, because they offer new equipment and technique. “Here on the Berlin Express we have on the bridge a new digital route planning monitor – the first in the fleet. It makes my work, route planning, much easier”, he explains. As a Navigational Officer Romil is also responsible for the mooring of the vessel. “With the new remote control, I can moore the vessel from any spot of the mooring station and can thus be closer to my team.”

A mayor step ahead is also the new fuel system for him: “The `Berlin Express’ is the first of 12 new dual fuel ships with more environmental LNG-gas propulsion. I am very happy, that Hapag-Lloyd is serious about reducing carbon and sulfur emission. I think, this is not only an ecological but also a social responsibility.“

When he told his dad and granddad, that he will go on a vessel with dual-fuel propulsion, they asked: “But how can it run with two fuels at the same time”? He could persuade them, that it is possible. Even though in the beginning, he also had some objections, thinking that that gas is more dangerous than conventional fuel. The LNG-training for all crew members was very helpful for him to better understand the new propulsion. He learned more about the processes and safety measures implemented to handle this new fuel. This convinced him.

He will be on board of the “Berlin Express” during the christening in October in Hamburg. Then he will fly home in February to Palawan taking a lot of videos and stories about the maiden voyage with him to his family.


Romil Lomoljo, is 30 years old and almost 10 years working on Hapag-Lloyd vessels. He comes from the beautiful Philippine island Palawan. At the moment, he is doing his duty as Officer of the Watch on the “Berlin Express”. In 2014 he was selected to do his apprenticeship with Hapag-Lloyd as Kadett learning on the “Chicago Express”. His last ship has been the “Essen Express”. In his freetime, he is again out on the ocean with friends – this time surfing.

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