shipping and handling operations, increased carriage of hazardous cargoes, growing public and political interest in marine pollution, rising liability for spills of oil and other hazardous cargoes, shrinking traditional salvage capability, and development of new technology—including fly-away salvage equipment packages.1 All these trends have continued.

In 1992, the Salvage Working Group, an industry organization representing salvors, shipowners, underwriters, and other interested parties, commissioned the Tecnitas Division of Bureau Veritas to study global salvage capacity and current levels of demand for salvage services and to examine how the relationship between demand and resources may change in the years ahead (Tecnitas, 1992). The study concluded that international salvage resources are in serious decline. This decline is primarily due to:

  • A drop in the number of marine casualties over the past decade, the effects of which were masked in the mid-1980s by the Iran-Iraq War.

  • A falling level of remuneration for salvors, to the point where the return is inadequate to support dedicated salvage capability.

  • Fierce competition for salvage work from nondedicated2. resources, aggravated by the search for low-cost salvage services by shipowners, insurers, and protection and indemnity (P&I) clubs.

Growing environmental concerns and increased liability for environmental damages have stimulated interest among vessel owners in seeing successful salvage carried out, thereby preventing uncontrolled releases of cargoes of fuel oil, crude oil, or hazardous materials. Environmental concerns also have stimulated greater public interest in salvage operations and have prompted some countries to become more involved in ensuring available salvage capability. Over the past ten years, interest in controlling the public consequences of casualties increasingly has overshadowed private concern for saving hulls and cargoes. However, compensation for salvors' efforts to avert or minimize pollution is only beginning to be integrated into the payment structure.

The future need for salvage services is related to the future risk of vessel accidents. Several factors can be expected to affect the future accident rate. On the negative side, low freight rates, brought about by the downturn in the world economy and overtonnaged markets, have put shipowners under financial pressure, which can lead to a lowering of maintenance and crewing standards. Indeed, some owners have succumbed to this pressure. Compounding this problem is the aging of the world fleet, a trend that heightens the need for maintenance.

On the positive side, the problems have been recognized by governments and private industry, which have responded with initiatives designed to prevent a reversal of the trend of declining marine transportation system accident rates. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90, P.L. 101-380) in the United States and Regulations 13F and 13G of MARPOL 73/78 Annex I from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) require the removal of older tank vessels from the world market on a fixed time schedule and major structural changes, such as double hulls, for replacement vessels. These laws also mandate enhanced maintenance and inspection procedures. In addition to legislative efforts, segments of the oil industry, the tanker industry, and the classification societies have taken steps to improve tank vessel quality. This is a

1  

Fly-away packages consist of specialized equipment, such as firefighting gear, diving systems, or pumps. This equipment is packaged and designed to be shipped on an airplane from storage locations to required destinations.

2  

Nondedicated resources are those used in applications other than marine salvage, but which can be substituted and/or utilized in a marine casualty response.



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