Hapag-Lloyd is one of the world’s biggest shipping companies with a history that dates back to the middle-1800s. Ownership of the company is divided among several companies, shareholders, and the city of Hamburg, Germany, where the headquarters are located. The owner with the largest stake in Hapag-Lloyd is the Chilean company CSAV.
The big shipping company is in the top five worldwide and has a fleet of nearly 200 vessels, about 10,000 employees, and offices in 118 countries. The capacity of the Hapag-Lloyd fleet is nearly one million TEU and travels the globe on over 100 lines. This successful and long-lasting maritime company has grown over the years into one of the biggest shippers in the business, and yet it operates in a dangerous industry. Hapag-Lloyd has seen several accidents and must maintain a responsibility to protect its maritime workers.
This large shipping company employs nearly 10,000 people. Of those, 1,500 are seagoing workers. These seamen do risky and dangerous jobs operating container shipping vessels and taking them around the world. The company has just under 200 vessels in its fleet, with ten that have a capacity of more than 10,000 TEU.
The Hapag-Lloyd vessels travel the globe on 122 shipping lines between all the major ports of the world. The company serves more than 500 ports, big and small: 242 in Asia, 169 in Europe, 99 in South America, and 28 in North America. It ships all kinds of products including foodstuff, machines, paper and wood, chemicals, raw materials, electronics, and automobiles.
The history of the modern company of Hapag-Lloyd goes back to a merger in 1970 between Lloyd and Hamburg America Line. The history of these two companies goes back much further. Hamburg America line, or Hapag, was founded Hamburg, Germany in 1847 as a faster service for travel between Germany and North America. Lloyd was founded in Bremen, Germany in 1856 with cargo shipping and passenger travel between Germany and New York.
Since the two companies merged in 1970 to become Hapag-Lloyd, they developed the container shipping aspect of the business. By 1998 the company had become a subsidiary of the larger TUI AG, a company headquartered in Hanover, Germany. In addition to shipping, Hapag-Lloyd operates a cruise line with four ships. The company also has a charter airline, which was originally intended to be used to fly passengers to cruise ports of call.
Dangers of Shipping
The maritime industry is always dangerous, but container shipping comes with particular risks that companies like Hapag-Lloyd must face on a daily basis. As a large company it has to ensure that hundreds of ships are seaworthy, equipment is maintained, and thousands of employees are properly trained, not just in how to do their jobs, but also in safety and emergency procedures.
Container shipping workers face a number of dangers that can lead to injuries and even deaths. These include bad weather that can cause ships to capsize or workers to fall overboard. They also face the risks of huge, heavy containers coming loose and shifting or falling. Fires on ships out at sea are always hazardous and can lead to illness, injury, and death. Collisions as these huge ships leave and enter busy shipping channels and ports are also a concern.
Hapag-Lloyd has faced a number of accidents over the years, some more high profile than others. And not all are directly related to shipping or the sea. For instance, in 2000 a Hapag-Lloyd passenger plane flying from Crete in Greece to Germany crashed in Vienna. The plane had run short of fuel and attempted an emergency landing in Vienna, but ran out of fuel and crashed short of the runway.
Fortunately no passengers or crew were killed, but crew members were found to be guilty of not complying with regulations set by Hapag-Lloyd. The explanation was that the employees were under a great deal of stress from being overworked, which could be the fault of the company, and this led to poor decision making and a lack of awareness of the hazards and seriousness of the situation.
Another noteworthy incident for Hapag-Lloyd was the collision of one of its container vessels, the Colombo Express, in the Suez Canal in 2014. The ship collided with Maersk’s Tanjong after losing control. The Hapag-Lloyd ship received a large dent in its hull and the Tanjong lost three containers overboard. Reports after the incident stated that the Colombo Express had been trying to overtake the other ship as they both exited the Canal heading south. This caused the operator to lose control of the rudder, which went hard left.
The incident luckily left no maritime workers injured and resulted in no oil or fuel spills that could have damaged the ecosystem. The damage to the ship, however, was significant. At the time, the Colombo Express was one of the largest container ships in the world, and yet this kind of collision can damage even such huge ships.
Maritime Workers and Maritime Law
If any workers had been injured in an accident like the Suez Canal collision, they would have rights under maritime law to seek compensation from Hapag-Lloyd. Some of these laws are as ancient as seafaring travels and trade are. Maintenance and cure, for instance, is the expectation that a seaman injured on the job will be provided for financially until he can return to work. The employer is responsible for his maintenance, or living expenses, and cure, medical expenses.
Other maritime laws are more modern, such as the Jones Act, which applies to seamen. It allows workers to sue an employer that is negligent in an accident. The compensation these injured workers are entitled to receive can help pay for mounting medical bills, lost earnings, and even lost future earnings if an injury is severe enough to limit work prospects for the future. Even the loved ones of seamen who were killed on the job are entitled to these rights.
If you are a seaman or other type of maritime worker, like a longshoreman, you have rights under maritime law to protect you when you are injured or to protect your dependents if your job leads to your death. The best way to ensure you get all the compensation to which you are entitled is to rely on the professional advice of an experienced maritime lawyer. Maritime companies may try to limit how much money they provide to injured workers, so never agree to anything until your lawyer has advised you. Let this professional guide your next steps and help you get everything you need to get back on your feet and care for your family.