Future Of Marine Emergency Services Now Under Scrutiny

Three separate investigations into the future of emergency response services at sea are now under way. The International Salvage Union (ISU), representing 38 marine salvors in 26 countries, is participating in each study. The primary aim, in all cases, is to ensure that adequate emergency response services are available to preserve property and prevent major spills arising from marine casualties.

The future of marine emergency response is now being examined by a joint industry body known as the Salvage Working Group. Its membership includes representatives of the ISU, P&I clubs, insurers, shipowners, The Salvage Association, the International wartime Organization (IMO), and other relevant shipping organizations.

During its second full meeting this year, the Working Group agreed that "a reduction in the capacity and experience of professional salvage companies might lead to a decline in effective salvage response which, in turn, might lead to an increase in costs to shipowners, and top their hull, cargo and P&I underwriters, as well as to third parties suffering loss as a result of casualties to vessels." The Working Group has appointed consultants to carry out a detailed study of global requirements for salvage services. Their findings will provide a basis for further discussion and the identification of potential solutions to current problems.

ISU members attending the organization's 1991 AGM, held at Bournemouth on the south coast of England, voiced strong support for the Working Group and its objectives.

In an interview published in the 1991 ISU Bulletin, Working Group chairman Miles Kulukundis, managing director of London & Overseas Freighters pic, said: "There were good reasons for establishing the Working Group and studying these problems in some depth. One of the central issues is the ability to avoid huge claims in situations such as the Mega Borg fire in the U.S.

Gulf." Salvors prevented serious pollution from the Mega Borg, which caught fire last year while off Galveston, Texas. The Mega Borg is just one of some 250 tanker casualties over the past decade where prompt emergency response has prevented serious pollution.

The European Commission's Salvage Steering Committee is now examining: • Recent salvage operations which have involved oil and hazardous cargoes.

• The salvage resources required and actually deployed to deal with these incidents.

• The extent to which private salvors' resources have been dispersed due to economic hardship and other factors.

• The impact of current trends on future availability of salvage capacity.

Meanwhile, the IMO is engaged in a study of salvage capacity worldwide, following the adoption of a Resolution by delegates attending last November's IMO Diplomatic Conference on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation.

Resolution 8 requires IMO member governments to report on the availability and adequacy of salvage services.

The industry's revenue from salvage cases in 1990 totaled about $73.2 million. While close to the 1984 revenue level, this figure is significantly lower in real terms, due to the effects of inflation and increasingly heavy out-of-pocket expenses, which reached an all-time high last year.

Other stories from November 1991 issue


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