Types of ship salvage

Ship salvage is defined as a process by which a vessel and its cargo are rescued from danger or perils at sea. Admiralty Law provides for many different types of ship salvage although typically there are six main types, justifiable and recognized in a court of law. Ship salvage law is vast in scope and as such it is advisable to obtain professional guidance with regards to the rights and obligations when conducting ship salvage.

The scope of ship salvage

As mentioned, ship salvage can take on many different forms, including offshore salvage, harbor salvage, wreck removal, afloat salvage, clearance salvage, and cargo and equipment salvage.

Offshore salvage

Offshore salvage is the term given to the process of refloating sunken ships or rescuing stranded ships in exposed waters by use of a tugboat and portable diving equipment. This type of salvage process is considered very risky as the salvor has only a short timeframe to perform the salvage due to exposure to waves and currents.

Harbor salvage

This type of salvage is the opposite to offshore salvage as the salvage is performed in sheltered waters. Harbor salvage is considered easier to perform as salvors have access to harbor resources and equipment.

Wreck removal

Wreck removal is the marine related term for the removal of dangerous and hazardous wrecks. The primary focus of the salvor is to ‘remove’ the vessel as opposed to ‘rescuing’ it.

Cargo and equipment salvage

This type of salvage refers to the rescue of equipment and cargo from a vessel in difficulty or danger at sea. In most cases, the type of cargo rescued under this category falls under the title of ‘hazardous cargo’ and poses a risk to the environmental safety of the sea.

Afloat salvage

Afloat salvage is the rescue of a vessel that is floating but damaged severely and is performed as a form of risk control through the use structural balancing and hell welding in a bid to stabilize the vessel.

Clearance salvage

This type of salvage is carried out in post natural disaster areas such as tsunamis and hurricanes that have caused ships to become obstructions. Generally, this type of ship salvage is necessary due to the level of damage the ships will have suffered due to disastrous events including weather conditions and wars.