Built on tradition

As a family-owned shipping company, Reederei Heinrich has an impressive history that harks back to 1865 – much of which can be traced through the family tree of current company owner Petra Heinrich. At its earliest beginning’s Petra’s great-grandfather Johann Heinrich placed an order for the coastal sailing boat ‘Amönitas’ at the Sietas shipyard in Germany, which was delivered in 1867. During the construction period, he married the daughter of the yard’s owner. Following its launch, the ‘Amönitas’ ran aground in Brazil and Johann Heinrich returned to Germany to work at the Hamburg Süd shipping company.

With the foundations laid, the next few generations of the Heinrich family further developed the shipping company. William Henrich, grandfather of Petra, married in 1911 and subsequently built the ‘Capella’ at Sietas, which was then sold in 1927. He then purchased a new fish trawler vessel, which was also known as the ‘Capella.’ The vessel was taken over by his eldest son Henry Heinrich, whose siblings included Hans Heinrich – father of Petra.

At the same time, the other side of the family were also engaged within the shipping sector. In 1952 the marriage of Hans Heinrich to Helga Knütel brought them together, and saw Hans become a third co-owner in the Knütel family’s vessels. This fleet has increased steadily since 1962.

Bringing the business up to date, it was in 1990 that Petra took over management of Reederei Heinrich, and alongside her husband Captain Jens Robrahn operates its current fleet of three vessels under the name HHShipping GmbH & Co. KG. These are the ‘Lappland’, the ‘Anna Sirkka’, and the fifth vessel to carry the ‘Helga’ name, boasting a combined total of more than 26,000 tonnes of deadweight. Although each vessel has its own capacities ranging from the smaller ‘Lappland’ up to the larger ‘Anna Sirkka’ they are all marketed as modern cargo feeder vessels.

Since 2007, Reederei Heinrich has also operated as part of the joint venture Este Shipmanagement GbR with two other well established family shipping companies – Bernd Becker Shipmanagement GmbH & Co. KG, and J.Kahrs Ship Management GmbH & Co. KG. In total, Este Shipmanagement maintains a fleet of 14 vessels out of its common office in Jork offering services in charter management, project management, construction supervision, nautical and technical inspection, personnel management and crewing, and financial services. Reederei Heinrich also offers apprenticeships as ship mechanics on each of its vessels. The extended services of Este Shipmanagement go beyond cargo transportation, where working with travel agencies it offers freighter travel to guests looking for a unique journey anywhere in the world.

Earlier this year, the ‘Lappland’ was successfully engaged in passage along the Kiel Canal, which is one of the busiest artificial waterways in the world with approximately 42,000 ships making the journey on its waters each year. Constructed in just eight years, the Kiel Canal was opened in 1895 to provide a considerably shorter route between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea than the alternative of passing around Skagen in Denmark. Despite the wintery conditions, the ‘Lappland’ successfully completed its chartered journey. All three of the company’s vessels frequently complete similar journeys throughout the year.

However, the activities of Reederei Heinrich, and particularly Petra, don’t end here as since May 2010 Petra has held the position of Chairman of the Shipowners Association Lower Elbe eV. This organisation was founded with the aim of representing the interests of vessel owners in the Lower Elbe region with regards to public, business and political concerns, as well as to promote the exchange of information between members. At present the Association has around 48 member companies, which represent a total of around 390 ships of all classes.

With such an extensive history in the German shipping industry, Reederei Heinrich’s engagement in these external activities indicate its commitment to maintaining this well-respected position. However, even today’s market is not without its challenges. One of the more difficult trends that the German shipping industry is now facing is the withdrawal of half the Government’s subsidy funding for ships registered under the German flag. This means that the vessels become more expensive to run and to crew, and therefore Reederei Heinrich is looking to re-flag its fleet in order to remain competitive in its next generation of activities.

Family owned for over 140 years
Member of the joint venture Este Shipmanagement
Also active in the Shipowners Association Lower Elbe eV