Richard Freiherr von Berlepsch (02/2019)

Richard Freiherr von Berlepsch


Menschen der deutschen Flagge - v. Berlepsch

About the person


Hapag-Lloyd AG


Managing Director Fleet Management

Education and professional career:

  • 1982: Cadet Officer on the general cargo ship „Thuringia“
  • 1984-1987: studies of nautics in Bremen
  • 1987: Navigational Officer on LPG tankers of the shipping company Ahrenkiel
  • 1991-1993: studies of engineering in Bremerhaven, degree: Dip.Ing. Schiffsbetriebstechnik 
  • 1993-1998: seagoing service on ships of the shipping company Hapag-Lloyd as Chief Mate and Chief Engineer Officer
  • 1998:  seagoing service as Master of shipping company Hapag-Lloyd
  • 2000: Master on "Hamburg Express", at that time the largest container ship in the world (7.500 TEU)
  • 2002: Managing Director of the Fleetmanagement of the shipping company Hapag-Lloyd


Sails with his family on the Baltic Sea.

6 questions about the maritime sector and the German flag

Being a seafarer is an exciting and versatile profession which has been a bit "undersold" in the public. Because what we do is very systemically relevant – without our work, the trade around the world would be significantly affected. You work together in a global setting.

I grew up in Hessen. Up until the day that I started my training I had no idea about seafaring, but even back then I had wanted to become a captain on large voyages. Then, in 1982, I first set foot on board; it was the general cargo ship "Thuringia". Keeping watch, removing rust, painting the decks and splicing the ropes: It was the best thing for a high school graduate. I wasn't ready to continue learning at university straight after school.


Do it – the shipping industry is very clearly an industry sector with a future. The profession is very diverse; officer is a challenging management job: he is responsible for around 20 people and moves values of up to one billion dollars. Those who involve themselves with passion will make their way. There are not many other places where you can make your career as quickly as on board a ship.

Traditionally, Hapag-Lloyd has had a close relationship with the German Flag. By now, we have been a shipping company with its head office in Hamburg for more than 170 years. Of course, many ships of our fleet fly the German flag – currently 40 vessels. As managing dierctor of the fleetmanagement, I am responsible for them as well as all of the other ships we own.

In truth, there are only two things that can convince the customers of shipping companies: with lower price for the offered service or with a special added value that represents a real monetary advantage for the customer. Quality, Safety, Service: for that I need highly qualified, motivated staff who can get with enthusiasm and passion that little more out for the customer. Our business is a "People's Business". The quality of a business depends mostly on its staff. If the seafarers or their training is "Made in Germany", customers definitely regard this as favourable.

For sure, there is still a gap financially speaking in comparison to other flags. But the quality of staff that we get compensates for it. And also, even if some processes are still too bureaucratic: The German Flag is a globally recognized flag of quality – and this will not change.