Photograph: DPA | Filipe Dulian
Several transport ships arrive in Bremerhaven every day. There are often hundreds of cars on board. BLG drivers bring the vehicles ashore.
It is still dawn when “Leader Cassiopeia” arrives at the car terminal in Bremerhaven. The huge cargo ship has hundreds of loaded wagons – and they all need to be removed from the ship on the same day. BLG drivers are responsible for this, as they load and unload transport ships with thousands of cars every day.
Cars from around the world
Here at the car terminal you can clearly see that Germany is actually a car country: there is space for up to 70,000 cars. Several transport ships arrive every day and deliver thousands of cars to Germany or take them from here all over the world.
The shift manager, Sascha Zobel, is responsible for planning the unloading and preparing the so-called “taxi drivers” for deployment. They do not remove the cars from the ship, but bring their own drivers on board, because the distances are long. One of them is Besir Sincar, who has worked at the port for 15 years.
Dexterity when unloading
The ship that needs to be unloaded this shift belongs to the Japanese shipping company NYK-Line and has 13 decks, arranged like a normal parking lot. The 915 C-Class cars, which come from the Mercedes factory in South Africa, are all secured with belts so they don’t slip even in storms and high waves. The driver’s job is also to loosen these fuses, known as “tying” them.
When unloading, tact is necessary: sometimes there is only 15 centimeters of space between the cars. That’s why inspectors help so that vehicles can leave the ship without damage. To ensure that the entire process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible, a tracking system helps taxi drivers, explains Besir Sincar: “Using our tablet, we can see where the cars are going so we can pick up the drivers again.”
The sun is rising when Sascha Zobel gives a positive interim assessment: “We are currently making very good weather, we are driving the vehicles we need every hour, and in the end we will certainly have an empty ship.” Three cars per hour is how much a driver needs to get to his destination.
When not needed as a taxi driver, Besir Sincar is also on the scanner. Here he records vehicles and their parking positions at the port so that colleagues can find them again later. Sincar’s favorite job, however, is on the ship, as a porter or deck foreman, but the stevedore also takes on other tasks: “It’s pure variety”.
Red numbers in BLG
But things are no longer going so well for BLG at the car terminal. Vehicle throughput has fallen drastically since Corona and the company is in the red. Managing Director Karsten Dierks does not want to say anything specific about this. There are many reasons why BLG’s self-imposed goals were not achieved.
We are a little below expectations in terms of numbers, that can be said quite clearly.
Karsten Dierks, General Director of BLG
At the end of the shift, Besir Sincar has to do it himself: there are not enough drivers on the ship to unload it in time. In fact, the keys always stay in the car to avoid chaos. Cars stay at the car terminal for anywhere from a few hours to a month before being transported later. After the last car leaves the “Leader Cassiopeia”, it can be loaded again – and will soon head out to sea again.
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buten in, November 14, 2023, 7:30 pm