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Salvage contract for ship - How to request ? Handling,responsibility & recordings

Request for Salvage: When a ship suffers a casualty, or is otherwise in a position of peril, the master must decide as a matter of urgency whether assistance, including salvage assistance, is needed or if the situation can be handled using the ship"s own resources. The Master shall normally request salvage after consultation with the Company. However he has complete authority to seek salvage assistance without reference to the Company if he considers this necessary.

The Master should refer to the publication on board “Peril at Sea and Salvage” for professional guidance.

stranded vessel
Fig : Vessel in distress

Matters to be Confirmed when Concluding a Salvage Contract

The Master shall confirm the following items when concluding a salvage contract:

• Instructions given by the Company (if available);

• Name of Salvagers and Position of Signatories;

• Contents of Salvage Contract;

• Place of arbitration for Salvage Awards

• Getting consent of the hull insurance company and cargo owners, where possible.

Attention to be Paid in Concluding Salvage Contract

Decided by the Master

(1) A salvage contract shall normally be concluded with consent of the Hull Insurance Company and Cargo Owners.

(2) In an Urgent situation, the Master may conclude a salvage contract by his own decision to protect Human lives, the Hull and Cargo, and to avoid Environmental Pollution.

(3) The Master shall take the following matters into consideration in concluding a salvage contract :

• The contract shall be in the form of a Daily Hire Basis or Towage contract as far as the situation permits.

• When a salvage agreement is deemed necessary, the agreement shall be according to the LOF 2000 Standard Form of Salvage Agreement.

• An offer of a salvage operation shall not be declined only for the reason that mutual agreement cannot be reached on the salvage awards, taking the level of urgency into careful consideration.

• If several salvage operations are offered, only the salvage operation deemed necessary to remove danger shall be selected.

The Master’s Responsibility during Salvage Operation

(1) Even in a case where a salvage contract has been concluded and the salvager carries out the salvage operation, the Master continuous to be responsible for the persons, hull, outfit and the cargo onboard. Therefore, the Master shall pay great attention to the safe and effective execution of the salvage operation.

(2) “No Cure No Pay” is the basic principle of the Lloyd’s Open Form, and it is generally understood that the rescued party shall not interfere with the rescue operation. Therefore, the Master shall be diplomatic and cooperative towards the salvagers, so as to not disadvantage arbitration in the future.

(3) If the Master offers his opinion on the salvage operation to the salvagers, it shall be made clear that these are Suggestions only, so that the responsibility is not shifted to him in the future.

(4) If the Master according to his professional judgment has to interfere in a salvage operation to safeguard human life, vessel, cargo and the environment he shall offer his protest in writing.

Recording during Salvage Operation

(1) For proper assessment of the salvage awards at the arbitration later, the Master shall record the following items during the salvage operation :

• Weather and Sea conditions, such as Wind, Waves, Tide, Current, Temperature, Sea water Temperature, Atmospheric pressure;

• A salvage operation record book shall be prepared to enter details as Number of Workers (by each job, if possible), Working hours, Details and Movement of Salvage boats and Special Work Boats, Type and Quantity of Main Equipment and Machinery in use, Type and Quantity of Lightened Cargo (if any);

• Protest or comments made (in writing) by the Master

• If the salvager uses the machinery, outfit and equipment of the vessel, this shall be recorded;

• If the hull or cargo has been Damaged or Sacrificed by the Salvager during the operation, a written confirmation shall be obtained from the salvager.

(2) The Master shall investigate and record following, considering that the items are important for a salvage award:

• Details of the distress;

• Condition around the vessel;

• Dangers facing the salvagers during the salvage operation

Report to the Company

The Master shall report the following items to the Company immediately after the completion of the salvage operation as the data to assess whether the operation has been reasonable and carried out effectively or not, in deciding the salvage awards in the future:

• Date, time, Place and Nature of Emergency;

• Method used to request salvage;

• Emergency Measures taken to protect the vessel;

• Continuous record of Sea and Weather conditions during salvage operation;

• Proximity of Coast, Geographical Features around the vessel, the nature of the Seabed, Tidal current, Tidal height and other dangers experienced;

• Availability of Alternative Salvage

• Dates and Times of arrival of the Salvager, Signing of salvage contract and Starting of the salvage operation and Details of salvage vessel(s);

• A description in detail of the salvage operation at each stage, equipment used and methods for use (Enter in time series);

• Details of the Towing from the place of disaster to the port of refuge (Distance, Speed, Required days, Weather, Towing conditions, and so on); and

• The date, Time and Place of Completion of the salvage operation.

Legal assistance - Appointment of Company Solicitor

The Company may appoint a solicitor after an incident involving liability and/or third parties to act on behalf of Owners and Underwriters in order to investigate the incident. If this decision is made, the Master will be immediately notified and given details of the lawyer attending. The ship’s personnel must not discuss the incident with anyone other than the lawyer.

In certain countries, a civil authority may be given the responsibility of investigating the incident. In such a circumstance it is in order to discuss the case with the civil authority investigator but, if possible, any discussion is to be delayed until the arrival of the Company’s solicitor.


Any method of communication may be used when a ship is in peril. Speed is essential and if power supplies are available satellite communications or main radiotelegraphy may be the most rapid way of establishing contract. At short to medium ranges, person to person radiotelephone contact may be the most effective. Governments and coastal state agencies normally require the use of VHF radiotelephony.

If main and reserve radio equipment is unavailable, efforts should be made to relay messages through ships or shore stations in the vicinity using, for example, battery powered emergency sets.

To obtain priority when transmitting messages by radio to stations or ships within range, the master should use the appropriate prefix signal to indicate that his message concerns distress (SOS, or by voice, MAYDAY), urgency (XXX, or by voice, PAN) or safety (TTT, or by voice, SÉCURITÉ).

In general, all communications should be brief, to the point and, except for those prefixed for distress, where practicable transmitted on working frequencies after communication has been established. This will keep the emergency and calling frequencies clear for other essential communications.

Salvage association

When damage to a vessel occurs which may give rise to a claim, owners have a duty to advise underwriters promptly. The underwriters will contact the Salvage Association, who will in turn instruct a surveyor to attend the vessel. The surveyor's log is to establish the facts surrounding the damage. The Salvage Association is an independent organisation which has representatives all over the world.

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