Salvage Union Members Provide Salvage Services

 

October 1, 2019

Fires aboard container ships have become a major problem for the salvage industry because of the difficulty of putting such fires out. Photo courtesy of the International Salvage Union.

According to the International Salvage Union (ISU), which represents 52 salvage companies based in 32 countries, its members provided 234 services last year, including 224 operations involving over 3.2 million tons of potentially polluting or hazardous liquid and dry cargoes.

Despite its many successes in salvaging ships, saving crews, removing wrecks and preventing pollution, the salvage industry remains a relatively small business and not always a profitable one. The recorded gross revenue for ISU members last year was $409 million compared to $457 million in 2017. Although revenue from Lloyd's Open Form (LOF) contracts increased to $104 million, up from $53 million posted in 2017, income from wreck removal operations declined by $56 million compared to the previous year. This saw five ISU members leave the salvage association because of difficult market conditions and marginal returns.

Fires aboard container ships have become a major problem for the salvage industry because of the difficulty of putting such fires out. Last year there was a large increase in the number of containers involved in salvage cases, rising to 59,874 TEUs from 45,655 TEUs, while there was also a significant increase in vessels carrying crude oil and refined oil products. These liquid cargoes rose to 1,302,988 tons from 933,198 tons recorded in 2017.


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Bulk cargoes, on the other hand, declined to 743,100 tons. The bulk category includes such commodities as coal, scrap steel, grains, soya and cement, all of which are considered as potential pollutants. In addition, another 497,973 tons of non-hazardous dry bulks, mainly metal ores, were involved in salvage cases.

Because of the number of large container ships that figured in major casualties over the past year, most due to fires, the figures for 2019 are expected to exceed those of 2018 by a fair margin once final tabulations are in.

 
 

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