The International Salvage Union’s annual Associate Members’ Day has revealed results of its 2018 Pollution Prevention Survey and a reminder of the importance of the industry.

Held recently in the City of London, the event (attended by MJ) saw a gathering of leading figures from the salvage industry and associated partners from as far away as Japan and the US. A number of papers provided compelling evidence of the need for a suitably-funded professional salvage industry, not only to reduce the scale of financial losses to ship and cargo owners as well as insurers but to minimise damage to the environment and not forgetting the saving of lives when things go wrong at sea.

ISU President Charo Coll welcomed the attendees and in her address reminding those present of one of the organisation’s aims, ensuring members receive appropriate reward not only to provide a profit but allow reinvestment and ensure salvors can continue to keep pace with the changing demands for their services.

The key-note address was provided by Nusrat Ghani MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport whose brief includes shipping. A key topic on the day was the role of women in the salvage industry and Ms Ghani outlined work government is doing to encourage entry of women into the shipping industry generally, stating that only 3% of shipping people are women, adding “we cannot ignore half of the population”.

Lindsey Malen-Habib from Resolve Marine added that of the 3% of women in shipping 90% worked in the cruise industry, reminding the audience that Resolve employed female divers and that in Sylvia Tervoort, Smit Salvage has the world’s only female salvage master.

ISU communications adviser James Herbert stated that modern container ships were in effect floating warehouses that had to be kept moving to facilitate the just-in-time demands of industry with major implications if that process is delayed because of for instance a fire on board or stranding in the approaches to a major port. In this regard the salvage industry is in effect facilitating world trade.

The subject was taken up by Nicky Cariglia from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) who outlined its work offering advice on effective response to spills of oil and other pollutants. Funded by the shipping industry, ITOPF has particular benefits to offer in an age when minor incidents can cause proportionally larger problems. Offering particularly useful services at remote locations, Ms Cariglia stated this included talking to authorities in developing countries including those refusing to speak with women representatives.

ISU members provided 224 services to vessels carrying 3.2m tonnes of potential pollutants in 2018. There was a significant increase in the year of vessels carrying crude oil and refined oil products, 1,302,228 tonnes – up from 933,187 tonnes in 2017. Similarly 2018 saw a large increase in the number of containers involved in salvage cases, rising from 45,655 teu in 2017 to 59,874 teu in 2018. The significance of the container numbers is put into perspective by being the equivalent of 898,110 tonnes in 2018 (at a nominal 15 tonnes per teu).

Breaking down the types of contract employed, 27% were TOW contracts, 17% commercial (day rate, fixed contract etc), 15% LOF, 13% other arrangements, 12% wreck contracts and the remainder under Japanese Form terms. ISU point out there may be under-reporting with its survey and includes LOFs performed by non-ISU members.

Charo Coll said: “We know that not all of these potential pollutants were at risk of going into the sea. Some cases will have been simple with limited peril but many others will have carried a real danger of substantial environmental damage. One major incident can cause an environmental catastrophe with huge financial and reputational consequences.” Acknowledging that salvage provision comes at a cost she adds: “It is essential that there continues to be global provision of professional salvage services to respond professionally to marine emergencies and that needs appropriate compensation.”

The day included contributions from speakers from Smit Salvage, Resolve Marine and RelyOn Nutec (the new name of Falck Safety Services) recounting the problems associated with responding to incidents involving large container ships. An expanded feature covering this important subject is planned for a future edition of MJ.

By Peter Barker