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Hamburg-based Carnival Maritime takes over monitoring and support of Carnival UK fleet

The FOC, centrepiece of Carnival Maritime in Hamburg (PHOTO: Carnival Maritime GmbH)
The Hamburg-based Fleet Operations Center (FOC) of Carnival Maritime GmbH is taking over the monitoring and support of all operations of Cunard and P&O Cruises ships, extending its scope to 37 ships.

In line with this expansion, Carnival Maritime will step up its staff from currently 180 to about 250 in 2017.

Plans for an affiliated FOC in Shanghai monitoring Asian operations are underway, while the experience gained in Hamburg will also be used to set up two additional FOCs for the Carnival Group in Seattle and Miami.
Lars Ljoen, md of Carnival Maritime highlighted the innovativeness of the Hamburg-based FOC, saying it sets new cruise industry standards. 'Only a couple of cargo operators have something similar,' Ljoen claimed.

The FOC, which operates 24/7 and monitors ship operation on real time basis, is the centrepiece of Carnival Maritime established as a marine service unit for the Costa Group.

Fully operational since last October, it was looking after the fleets of Costa Crociere, Costa Asia and AIDA Cruises, monitoring and supporting the operation of 25 ships which grew to 26 when AIDAprima started service this spring.

Ljoen explained, Carnival Maritime is now extending its services to the fleet of Carnival UK comprising P&O Cruises as well as Cunard with an additional eleven ships.

This expansion started two weeks ago and will be concluded next spring. As part of this process several UK staff have already been relocated to Hamburg, including Carnival UK's previous fleet captain, Keith Dowds. He was appointed vp nautical operations of Carnival Maritime in June and also of Hamburg's FOC which is managed by Michael Salzmann as senior superintendant.
Acting as a communication control centre, the FOC is staffed with at least two fully qualified and experienced nautical officers permanently. The team works in two twelve-hour-shifts from eight to eight.

The FOC monitors all aspects of navigational safety, weather and energy management. To get a full view of the navigational environment onboard, it among other data receives radar screen shots from all 37 ships within its scope every 60 seconds, a frequency which could be stepped up to every 15 seconds if necessary.

Also digital bell book entries, ship stability information, the status of the ship's tanks, etc. is transmitted to the FOC.

In the event of any safety concerns, the FOC supports the captain and his crew on the vessel concerned. The FOC also supports the ships with regard to any none-safety-critical situations deviating from planning, such as developing gales or hurricanes which could make route alternations necessary, rescheduled sailings due to the late arrival of embarking passengers, etc.

In case a navigating ship deviates from the planned route corridor, the FOC staff receives an alert. In such cases it verifies if the deviation is comprehensible and caused e.g. by dense ship traffic in the area. If the cause of the deviation cannot be verified, the FOC takes up contact with the respective ship by phone immediately.

Speaking about his experiences with the FOC, AIDAluna's captain, Marc-Dominique Tidow highlighted the FOC has ship to shore communication into a daily business rather than an extraordinary situation.

Referring to the example of gales or hurricanes developing in the area a cruise ship is supposed to pass, Tidow said it was favourable to obtain additional support from the FOC, gain access to meteorological specialists' know-how and hear another opinion. He said the new onshore structure – complementing an efficient onboard team – gave the masters additional peace of mind. Tidow outlined that, while the FOC provides advice and support, ultimate decisions remain unrestrictedly with the captains.
Apart from the nautical operations division – of which the FOC is one part -, Carnival Maritime has seven other departments covering all aspects of cruise ship management, such as security, human resources, asset management, etc.

Director continuous improvement of Carnival Maritime, Alexander Klingelhöfer, outlined the opportunities of automated data collection done through the Microsoft-based 'NEPTUNE' platform specifically developed for use by Carnival Maritime. It allows to store and compare data of all ships monitored and supported, helping to define best-practice solutions for example for itinerary planning or engine usage on a specific route.

Summarizing the goals of Carnival Maritime with regard to continuous improvement, he named achieving aviation-level safety standards, highest efficiency standards for energy and resource management as well as optimised repair and maintenance costs as the core objectives.
Ljoen said that even airlines have recently shown interest in the activities of Carnival Maritime and the FOC at Hamburg. 'That's a good sign indeed,' the chief said, adding its in-house developed NEPTUNE software, has also gained recognition with its developers invited by Microsoft to an IT experts gathering in order to present their product and share experiences.