efforts; salvage compensation was awarded solely for success in saving vessels or cargo in distress by those under no legal obligation to do so. If the cargo or vessel were lost despite the best efforts of the salvor, no award was made—thus, the adage ''no cure, no pay,'' which was reflected in contracts for salvage services such as Lloyd's Open Form (LOF).

The LOF was modified in 1980 following the Amoco Cadiz casualty to provide for reimbursement of expenses incurred by salvors to minimize or prevent pollution, even if the salvor was eligible for no other award. In 1990, reflecting the Salvage Convention of 1989, the LOF was again modified to reward salvors' efforts to prevent or minimize pollution. The salvor's skill and efforts in preventing and minimizing pollution were added to the criteria for fixing the reward. Additionally, the 1990 changes provided that the salvor was entitled to special compensation, up to 130 percent of the salvor's expenses (200 percent in special circumstances) for efforts to prevent or minimize pollution in the event that the salvor's award otherwise would be less than the special compensation. An award for a salvage operation undertaken under an LOF 90 has already been granted. This was in the case of the 1991 grounding of the Yinka Folawayo off the coast of Spain. Salvors were paid under the contract for their salvage and pollution prevention efforts; compensation was granted despite the total loss of the vessel.

Although U.S. salvage companies tend to be more willing than foreign salvors to work under terms other than the LOF, the philosophy that produced the changes in the LOF will have an effect on all future salvage contracts, even in the United States.

In the United States, environmental and coastal concerns led to passage of OPA 90 and related state statutes. OPA 90 imposes new and expanded responsibilities on the oil-carrying vessels of the marine transportation industry to prevent, plan for, and respond to oil spills. Regulations stemming from the act also require oil-carrying vessels to make response plans that identify and plan for salvage resources. In addition, port-area contingency plans must identify and plan for deployment of salvage resources. Thus, OPA 90 fosters increased awareness of the role of salvage in pollution prevention and mitigation, presumably a positive influence on the future of salvage resources in the United States. The terms "salvor" and "salvage resources" in the regulations have yet to be defined.


The 1982 NRC report, Marine Salvage in the United States, contains various conclusions and recommendations. Those recommendations and related changes enacted to date are shown in Table 2-1.


Conclusions in the 1982 NRC report, Marine Salvage in the United States, reflected various regional concerns about salvage capability. These concerns are summarized below.

East Coast

  • Major salvage incidents in this region were too infrequent to justify maintenance of a dedicated commercial salvage ship.

  • Salvage was expected to continue to involve improvised assemblies of assets on an incident-by-incident basis.

  • Actions taken to stabilize distressed vessels, such as flooding control and dewatering (removing water from cargo tanks), were in regular use using state-of-the-art equipment.

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