The International Salvage Union (ISU) is the global trade association representing marine salvors. Its members provide essential services to the world’s maritime and insurance communities. Members are engaged in marine casualty response, pollution defence, wreck removal, cargo recovery, towage and related activities. The principles of salvage and salvage law have of course evolved over the centuries – the fundamental concept being that the salvor should be encouraged by the prospect of an appropriate salvage award to intervene in any casualty situation to salve the ship, property and in particular to save life and prevent pollution. The salvor’s right to reward is based on natural equity, which allows the salvor to participate in the benefit conferred to the shipowner, the ship itself and the ship’s cargo.
The annual lunch is a good lively forum in which to hear about and discuss the ISU’s operations during the year and any concerns this sector of our industry may have. Speaking at the lunch, ISU President Leendert Muller said “Salvors are only one small part of the wider shipping industry but naturally we think we are very important. No-one wants to see a casualty but when there is one, it is usually only our members who have the equipment, skill and experience to provide the necessary services. In many cases those services prevent environmental disaster as our annual pollution prevention survey demonstrates.
Earlier this year we again produced our annual statistics which show a substantial industry. In a typical year, ISU members conduct about 150 - 200 salvage operations and somewhere between 25 and 45 wreck removals. The gross income for our members last year was some $800 million from which we must, of course, pay our own costs and our subcontractors. Our statistics show income for the year it was received and it may well relate to jobs conducted in previous years. I am bound to say that we provide good value for money and if owners or their insurers complain about the cost of salvage I should remind them that the IUMI statistics show that premium income from the marine and offshore sector is, by comparison with our income, more than $30 billion annually. I should like to highlight one area of our business that is of particular concern.
You will have to excuse me for going into some detail. What concerns us is the idea of introducing a so-called Property Salvage Consultant (PSC) in non-SCOPIC Lloyd’s Open Form cases. A Special Casualty Representative is always deployed during a SCOPIC LOF case but this idea is for property interests to send a consultant to monitor the progress of the salvage services in non SCOPIC LOF cases and send regular reports. It is our view, and that of other parties, notably ICS; the International Group of P&I Clubs and the Admiralty Solicitors’ Group that a PSC is unnecessary.
Salvors are engaged to use their “best endeavours” to save life, protect the environment and save property. Their pay depends on their success in those objectives, taking account of the circumstances. We therefore reject the PSC proposal because we do not see that it will add any value; it will increase bureaucracy and could even lead to interference which might hamper the conduct of operations. But we do recognise the need to ensure all parties are properly briefed on the progress of operations and so we have agreed that, for a trial period, the salvage master will submit to Lloyd’s a Daily Salvage Report (DSR) in a standard format. That report can then be circulated to all interests to keep them updated and sighted on developments. We do not think there is any need to continue debating the matter during the trial period.