Name: Gregor Klöttschen
Position: Chief Engineer
Residence: Munkbrarup,Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Family: Wife Henrike and daughter Mathilda
Hobbies: Sailing, diving, jogging, gardening
Lights out. Everything turns black below deck as the auxiliary engines stop, leaving the ship with no power. Seconds later, the main engine goes into emergency shutdown.
The emergency engine starts, lights on, and the faces of the crew emerge from the dark in front of Gregor Klöttschen. They find themselves at the very heart of the trouble, the engine room, and he is the Chief Engineer, responsible for the beating heart of the ship.
It is one of those rare occasions when container vessel crews face what they call ‘blackout’. When the heart stops beating, his colleagues look to him for direction.
“Everyone looks at you, expecting you to know what you’re doing and waiting for your command. It’s a crucial moment. You must repower the vessel quickly, maybe in dangerously narrow waters, and you don’t know why the engine broke down,” says Klöttschen.
“Experience prepares you for situations like this. Automation is great, but you have to know your manual craft and get your hands dirty. I like dealing with problems, finding the fault and fixing it. It gives you a feeling that you can achieve anything.”
No favourite colour
Klöttschen, an approachable and driven 35-year-old from Munich, works on vessels for Hamburg Süd. When it was announced that the company had been sold to Maersk Line, his first reaction was a sense of gratitude for his career at the German shipping line – and then relishing the prospect of fresh opportunities.
Integration work is well underway to reinforce the global positions of both Hamburg Süd and Maersk Line, as well as strengthening the respective customer offerings.