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New President for ISU

The Annual General Meeting of the International Salvage Union (ISU) was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 12 October 2023. At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr John Witte Jr. Donjon Marine, USA, became the new President of the ISU.

Mr Witte succeeds Captain Nicholas Sloane, Resolve Marine, USA, who will continue as a member of the ISU Executive Committee.

Captain Sloane said: “It has been an absolute honour and privilege to have been the President of ISU these past two years, and to represent the interests of all our members as we have tackled the major issues facing our industry. The ISU’s own statistics show that our members are facing difficult economic times but we are a vibrant industry and we continue to provide vital services. The ISU members are critical partners for insurers and owners to help meet their ESG requirements.

“In the past two years we have made good progress on issues such as the SCOPIC rates and the creation of new guidelines for Special Casualty Representatives and on the BIMCO 2023 WreckStage contract. We have maintained good relations with the clubs, owners and property insurers.

“I am delighted to be handing over to John Witte who comes from a family with a long and proud tradition in salvage. John has much experience of the industry – both as a salvage master and operational manager – and has demonstrated great commitment to marine salvage and the ISU of which he is a past President and I am sure the leadership of our association will be in good hands.”

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Witte said: “I would like to thank Nick for all that he has done for the ISU over the past two years: he has shown great dedication to the role. For my part it is a great honour to be the President of the ISU and I look forward to leading the association as it continues to address the current challenges, in particular, enhancing the reputation of the industry and strengthening further our relationships with shipowners and insurers.”

At the same time, Captain Leendert Muller, Managing Director of Multraship Towage & Salvage, The Netherlands, was confirmed as the vice President of the ISU. Mr Muller is a past President of the association.

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ISU publishes salvage industry statistics for 2022

Key figures:

• Gross revenue for ISU members – US$ 241 million (2021, US$ 391 million)
• 149 services provided (2021, 189 services)
• Lloyd’s Open Form (LOF) – 26 cases (2021, 29). LOF revenue down at US$ 66 million (2021, US$ 122 million)
• Wreck removal income – US$ 55 million from 32 services (2021, US$ 108 million from 56 services)

All numbers are gross income from which all the contractors’ costs must be paid. Numbers are for income in the year received not the year when the service was provided.

ISU President, Captain Nicholas Sloane, said: “The 2022 ISU statistics show a 38 per cent decrease in the income received by our members compared with the previous year. Emergency Response services generated US$ 166 million split between LOF, US$ 66 million and other contracts, $100 million.

“Wreck removal income has nearly halved, dropping from US$ 108 to US$ 55 million. Economic conditions are challenging and activity and income for our industry is volatile year-on-year. The general trend towards a smaller number of larger and more complex cases enhances that annual variability.

“The numbers in this survey reflect the period when the world was still fully contending with the Covid pandemic which made operations and logistics more challenging. Throughout those difficult times ISU members showed time and again their problem solving and willingness to overcome obstacles to provide services to their clients, the shipowners, and their insurers. And, taken alongside the ISU’s pollution prevention statistics, these numbers demonstrate a dynamic industry which, in most years, performs some 200 salvage services.

The 2022 ISU statistics show a historic low level of LOF cases – 26 for ISU members – generating income of US$ 66 million. Revenue from LOF cases amounted to 40 per cent of all emergency response revenue and LOF cases accounted for 21 per cent of emergency response cases in 2022. SCOPIC revenue at US$ 21 million in 2022 was down from US$ 42 million previously.

Revenue in 2022 from operations conducted under contracts other than LOF was US$ 100 million. The average revenue from each non-LOF contract was therefore US$ 813,000.

Wreck removal is an important source of income for members of the ISU and in 2022 there was US$ 55 million from 32 operations (23 per cent of the total income) which was dramatically down on 2021’s US$ 108 million from 56 operations (28 per cent of the total income) .

Captain Sloane added: “Professional salvors protect the environment, reduce risk and mitigate loss. They also keep trade moving – which is demonstrated so clearly when there are large containership cases. We continue to work closely with key stakeholders to ensure that there is continued global provision of professional salvage services.”

The ISU statistics are collected from all ISU members by a professional third party, which aggregates and analyses them. The statistics do not include the revenues of non-ISU members but are the only formal measure of the state of the marine salvage industry. The statistics are for income received in the relevant year but that can include revenue relating to services provided in previous years and there can be an element of “time lag”. The statistics are for gross revenues from which all of the salvors’ costs must be met.




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ISU pollution prevention survey shows environmental benefit of salvage industry

Members of the International Salvage Union (ISU) provided 186 services to vessels carrying 2.6 million tonnes of potentially polluting cargo and fuel during operations in 2022, clearly showing the critical role of professional salvors in protecting the marine environment. The data come from the results of the ISU’s Annual Pollution Prevention Survey for operations in 2022.

President of the ISU, Captain Nicholas Sloane, said: “We are all now so much more aware of, and careful about, the environment. But we all need shipping and incidents like the Suez Canal blockage demonstrated that reliance. The shipping and insurance industries recognise their responsibilities and the importance of maintaining their “licence to operate” and the availability of emergency response services is a critical part of meeting those responsibilities.

“The number of services fell last year and each year there can be significant variations of the quantities of pollutants in each category. But, overall, the amount of pollutants has stayed consistent. The number of containers is lower than last year but, after bulk cargo, still represents the most significant category with our members providing services to vessels carrying 50,000 TEU amounting to some 747,270 tonnes of cargo. It compares with 141,000 tonnes of crude oil, confirming the shift over the past decades as oil trades have become safer. Boxes stuffed with harmful and dangerous goods including plastic pellets (nurdles) represent one of the biggest threats to the marine environment. They are potentially very damaging and, with the added issue of misdeclaration of contents, dangerous to deal with.”

Captain Sloane added: “The ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) agenda is so important for shipowners and insurers and we need to ensure that the capability, and willingness, of commercial salvors to provide vital services around the world is valued and not eroded.”

Cargoes of refined oil products in 2022’s numbers were similar to crude oil at 144,808 tonnes. Chemical cargoes rose to 79,319 tonnes in 2022. Bulk cargoes increased significantly to 1,235,741 tonnes in 2022 compared to 424,719 last time. This category includes products such as coal, scrap steel, grains, soya and cement. A number of bulk cargoes are not included as potential pollutants and ISU members also provided services to bulkers carrying 113,926 tonnes of non- hazardous dry bulk – mainly metal ores.

11 cases had more than 2000 tonnes of bunkers on board and the total of bunkers involved was 108,112 tonnes. A number of the services noted in the survey did not record the quantity of bunkers or the cargo-type meaning the reported totals likely represent a more modest total than the reality.

ISU is transparent about the fact that not all these potential pollutants were at immediate risk of going into the sea. Some cases will have had limited danger, but others will have carried a real risk of causing substantial environmental damage. In an era of “zero tolerance” of any pollution, even the smaller cases represent a significant concern.

2021 ISU Pollution Prevention Survey Results (tonnes)

  2022 2021
Number of services 186 226
Bunker fuel 108,112 89,456
Crude oil 140,900 103,408
Refined oil

products

144,858 182,232
Chemicals 79,319 24,126
Bulk

polluting/hazardous

1,235,741 424,719
TEU – tonnes equivalent 747,270 (49,818

TEU@nominal

15 tonnes/TEU

1,559,025 (103,935

TEU@nominal

15 tonnes/TEU)

Other pollutants 34,946 2,793
Totals 2,605,072 2,595,216
Bulk, non-polluting 113,926 209,457

The 186 services in 2022 included 12 wreck removal/marine services contracts; 16 Lloyd’s Open Forms. 38 towage contracts; 4 Japanese Forms; 4 Lump Sum, Day Rate 5 contracts; 84 other contracts (including commercial terms and common law salvage) and 23 Turkish Forms.

The survey was first conducted by ISU in 1994 and the methodology was updated in 2014 to include a wider range of potential pollutants including containers and hazardous and dirty bulk cargoes. In the period 1994 to end-2022, ISU members have provided services to casualty vessels carrying 41,478,058 tonnes of potential pollutants, an average of 1.4 million tonnes per year.

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2021 ISU salvage industry statistics modest recovery in gross revenues

ISU today published its annual statistics for 2021:

• Gross revenue for ISU members – US$ 391 million (2020, US$ 301 million)
• 189 services provided (2020, 182 services)
• Lloyd’s Open Form (LOF) – 29 cases (2020, 40). LOF revenue up at US$ 122 million (2020, US$ 60 million)
• Wreck removal income – US$ 108 million from 56 services (2020, US$ 98 million from 101 services)

All numbers are gross income from which all the contractors’ costs must be paid.

ISU President, Captain Nicholas Sloane, said: “The 2021 ISU statistics show a 26 per cent increase in the income received by our members compared with the previous year. Emergency Response services generated US$ 242 million split almost equally between LOF and other contracts – US$ 122 million and $120 million respectively.

‘’Wreck removal income has stayed very similar to the previous year and is still down on the historic proportion of our members’ income – some 50 per cent% – which wreck removal typically represents.

“Economic conditions are challenging and activity and income for our industry is volatile year-on-year. The general trend towards a smaller number of larger and more complex cases enhances that annual variability.

“The numbers in this survey reflect the period when the world was still fully contending with the Covid pandemic which made operations and logistics more
challenging. Throughout those difficult times ISU members showed time and again their problem solving and willingness to overcome obstacles to provide services to their clients, the shipowners, and their insurers. And, taken alongside the ISU’s pollution prevention statistics, these numbers demonstrate a dynamic industry which most years performs some 200 salvage services.

“Professional salvors protect the environment, reduce risk and mitigate loss. They also keep trade moving – which is demonstrated so clearly when there are large containership cases. We continue to work closely with key stakeholders to ensure that there is continued global provision of professional salvage services.”

The 2021 ISU statistics show a historic low level of LOF cases – 29 for ISU members – generating income of US$ 122 million. It compares with 40 cases worth US$ 60 million in 2019. Revenue from LOF cases amounted to 50 per cent of all emergency response revenue and LOF cases accounted for 15 per cent of emergency response cases in 2021. SCOPIC revenue at US$ 41 million in 2021 was up from US$ 24 million previously.

Revenue in 2021 from operations conducted under contracts other than LOF was US$ 120 million, effectively the same as in 2020 (US$ 119 million). The average revenue from each non-LOF contract was therefore US$ 750,000.

Wreck removal is an important source of income for members of the ISU but 2021, with US$ 108 million from 56 operations (28 per cent of the total income), showed the same trend as 2020 (US$ 98 million received from 52 services – 33 per cent of the total).

The ISU statistics are collected from all ISU members by a professional third party, which aggregates and analyses them. The statistics do not include the revenues of non-ISU members but are the only formal measure of the state of the marine salvage industry. The statistics are for income received in the relevant year but that can include revenue relating to services provided in previous years and there can be an element of “time lag”. The statistics are for gross revenues from which all of the salvors’ costs must be met.

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ISU pollution prevention survey shows great environmental benefit of salvage industry

Members of the International Salvage Union (ISU) provided 226 services to vessels carrying 2.6 million tonnes of potentially polluting cargo and fuel during operations in 2021. It demonstrates the critical role of professional salvors in protecting the marine environment. The data come from the results of the ISU’s Annual Pollution Prevention Survey for operations in 2021.

President of the ISU, Captain Nicholas Sloane, said: “The shipping industry knows only too well that it is under the spotlight for its environmental performance: both for the environmental impact of operating ships and for the threat they, and their cargo, present to the environment. All casualties have the potential to develop into serious incidents and, in a world where even the smallest amount of pollution is unacceptable, the work of our members is essential.

“The most eye-catching number in these results is for containers. ISU members provided services to vessels carrying more than 100,000 TEU amounting to more than 1.5 million tonnes of cargo. The mixed nature of such cargoes – including dangerous goods, harmful chemicals, plastic pellets – means that they are potentially highly polluting and difficult and dangerous to deal with.”

Captain Sloane added: “Shipowners and insurers are increasingly under pressure to demonstrate their ESG credentials (Environmental, Social and Governance) and, where engaged, ISU members play an important role in helping them to meet their environmental obligations and demonstrate their commitment. Continued global provision of the professional salvage services offered by members of the ISU is essential.”

Crude oil cargo was relatively low in 2021 at 103,408 tonnes while cargoes of refined oil products rose to 182,232 tonnes. Chemical cargoes fell significantly to 24,126 tonnes in 2021. The number of containers involved in ISU members’ services in 2021 climbed dramatically to 103,935 TEU equating to some to 1,559,025 tonnes (allowing a nominal 15 tonnes per TEU).

Bulk cargoes decreased significantly to 424,719 tonnes in 2021 compared to 744,246 tonnes last time. This category includes products such as coal, scrap steel, grains, soya and cement. A number of bulk cargoes are not included as potential pollutants and ISU members also provided services to bulkers carrying 209,475 tonnes of non-hazardous dry bulk – mainly metal ores.

11 cases had more that 2000 tonnes of bunkers on board and the total of bunkers involved was 89,456 tonnes. An increased number of the services noted in the survey did not record the quantity of bunkers or the cargo type.

ISU is clear that not all these potential pollutants were at immediate risk of going into the sea. Some cases will have had limited danger, but many others will have carried a real risk of causing substantial environmental damage.

2021 ISU Pollution Prevention Survey Results (tonnes)

  2021 2020
Number of services 226 191
Bunker fuel 89,456 111,886
Crude oil 103,408 360,733
Refined oil

products

182,232 112,096
Chemicals 24,126 133,150
Bulk

polluting/hazardous

424,719 744,246
TEU – tonnes

equivalent

1,559,025

(103,935

TEU@nominal

15 tonnes/TEU)

502,845 (33,523

TEU@nominal

15 tonnes/TEU)

Other pollutants 2,793 51,928
Totals 2,595,216 2,538,210
Bulk, non-polluting 209,457 521,326

The 226 services in 2021 included 30 wreck removal/marine services contracts; 26 Lloyd’s Open Forms. 52 towage contracts; 15 Japanese Forms; 8 Fixed Price and Lump Sum contracts; 27 Day Rate contracts; 44 other contracts and 24 Turkish Forms.

The survey was first conducted by ISU in 1994 and the methodology was updated in 2014 to include a wider range of potential pollutants including containers and hazardous and dirty bulk cargoes. In the period 1994 to end-2021, ISU members have provided services to casualty vessels carrying 38,872,986 tonnes of potential pollutants, an average of 1.4 million tonnes per year.




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New President for International Salvage Union

The Annual General Meeting of the International Salvage Union (ISU) was held in London (and virtually) 30 November 2021 and the membership confirmed Captain Nicholas Sloane as the new President of the ISU from the end of the meeting.

Captain Sloane succeeds Richard Janssen who will continue as a member of the ISU Executive Committee. Mr Janssen said: “It has been a privilege to be ISU President. Most of my presidency has been conducted under the cloud of the COVID pandemic and restrictions but, like our members, ISU has risen to the challenge and continued to act as the global voice of the industry, serving our members, representing their interests and working on the important issues facing – if not threatening – our sector.

“More than ever I am convinced about how critical our industry is and we have continued to make a great contribution by preventing loss, mitigating risk, protecting the environment and enabling global trade. I hand over the presidency with real confidence to Nick, who is well-known across the shipping industry and beyond. He is a vastly experienced salvor and has a deep personal commitment to our industry and also to the protection of the marine environment.”

Commenting on his appointment, Captain Sloane said: “I would like to thank Richard for his hard work and leadership over the past two years – often in difficult circumstances – he has not only held the industry together but has helped us to make progress on key issues and led the appointment process of our new Legal Advisor and Secretary General.

“I am honoured to represent Resolve on the ISU Executive Committee and it is a privilege for me to take over the leadership position as President of the ISU. I want to see through our commitment to cooperate with insurers recognising that we serve the same clients, the shipowners. I want to vigorously promote our industry and its benefits. In particular, I will emphasise that protection of the environment is such an important aspect of our members’ operations and so crucial in the world today which has rightly put the environment at the top of the international political agenda.”

Captain Sloane, a South African, is a director of international salvage, wreck removal, emergency response and training provider, Resolve Marine of Florida USA. He is a Fellow of the Nautical Institute and the International Institute of Marine Surveyors and started his career at sea in 1980 and has worked in many roles, primarily in towage and salvage, rising to become master of the super-tugs John Ross and Wolraad Woltemade and then salvage master. His “case book” includes casualties and wrecks in all classes of ship and oil rigs around the world including leading the team that raised the Costa Concordia from the Italian island of Giglio from 2012 – 2014.

At the same meeting, John Witte was elected as Vice President of the International Salvage Union. Mr Witte is President and CEO of Donjon Marine Co., Inc. of New Jersey, USA. He has more than 40 years’ experience of towage, salvage, heavy lift, marine engineering and shipbuilding and repair. Mr Witte is a past-President of both the American Salvage Association and ISU.

The AGM also heard that ISU has selected James Herbert to succeed ISU Secretary General Roger Evans who is to retire at the end of Q1 2022. Mr Herbert is the long serving communications adviser to ISU. He started his career as a British army officer before training as a BBC journalist. He joined the Shell group rising to head of group media relations where he handled numerous tanker incidents. After a period as a senior UK civil servant, Mr Herbert formed his own communications consultancy specialising in the shipping industry and also providing crisis communications services to shipowners. He has 25 years’ experience of international marine casualty including deploying on site and working with major coastal state authorities including the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the US Coast Guard. He has served the ISU for more than 12 years and transformed the way in which the organisation presents itself. He will combine the Secretary General and corporate communications roles.

 

 

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2020 ISU salvage industry statistics show significantly weaker revenues with dramatic fall in wreck removal income and services

ISU today published its annual statistics for 2020:

• Gross revenue for ISU members – US$ 301 million (2019, US$ 482 million)
• 182 services provided (2019, 216 services)
• Lloyd’s Open Form (LOF) – 40 cases (2019, 35). LOF revenue up at US$ 60 million (2019, US$ 49 million)
• Wreck removal income significantly down – US$ 98 million from 52 services (2019, US$ 284 million from 101 services)

ISU President, Richard Janssen, said: “The 2020 ISU statistics show a 38 per cent fall in the income received by our members compared with the previous year. It is the dramatic fall in wreck removal income that stands out in these statistics – a 65 per cent drop. In recent years, wreck removal income has represented roughly 50 per cent of our members’ income but in 2020 it accounted for just under 33 per cent.

“The economic pressures on our industry continue and we know that on an annual basis activity and income for our industry is variable. The general trend towards a smaller number of larger and more complex cases enhances that annual variability.

“There has also been some structural change in the industry in the last 18 months with the loss of a major player. That may have had an impact on these statistics but it is not possible to say for certain or to what extent.

“What we can say with confidence is that ISU members have continued to provide vital services to shipowners and insurers. And, taken alongside the ISU’s pollution
prevention statistics, these numbers still demonstrate an active industry which year-in, year-out provides in the region of 200 services to vessels in trouble.

“Professional salvors protect the environment, reduce risk and mitigate loss. They also keep trade moving – demonstrated so clearly in front of the world’s media with the refloating of the containership Even Given in the Suez Canal this year. But there also has to be a concern about the ongoing provision of salvage services globally and the long term viability of the industry as it is today. ISU continues to actively engage with shipowner and insurers to ensure we are aligned with them on the future challenges they are likely to face.”

The 2019 ISU statistics show that there were 40 Lloyd’s Open Form (LOF) cases for ISU members generating income of US$ 60 million. It compares with 35 cases worth US$ 49 million in 2019. Average income from each LOF case in 2020 was US$ 1.5 million representing 9 per cent of the average LOF salved value of the ship and its cargo.

Revenue from LOF cases amounted to 33 per cent of all “dry” salvage (emergency response) revenue and LOF cases accounted for 22 per cent of all “dry” salvage cases in 2020.
SCOPIC revenue at US$ 24 million was up from US$ 17 million in 2019.

Revenue in 2020 from operations conducted under contracts other than LOF was US$ 119 million, down from US$ 131 million in 2019. The average revenue from each non-LOF contract was therefore US$ 838,000.

Wreck removal has become an increasingly important source of income for members of the ISU but 2020 appears to reverse that trend with US$ 98 million received from 52 services. By contrast, in 2019, 101 operations were reported with a gross income of US$ 284 million.

The ISU statistics are collected from all ISU members by a professional third party, which aggregates and analyses them. The statistics do not include the revenues of non-ISU members but are the only formal measure of the state of the marine salvage industry. The statistics are for income received in the relevant year but that can include revenue relating to services provided in previous years and there can be an element of “time lag”. The statistics are for gross revenues from which all of the salvors’ costs must be met.




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ISU responds to potential closure of Lloyd’s Salvage Arbitration Branch

ISU has submitted its response to Lloyds regarding the possible closure of the Lloyd’s Salvage Arbitration Branch. The following is the full text of the ISU response:

Re: Consultation on proposed closure of Lloyd’s Salvage Arbitration Branch

We are writing in response to the email received from David Lawrence, Lloyd’s Head of Agency, on 23 April in which he notified us of a review which is considering whether the services of the Lloyd’s Salvage Arbitration Branch should be stopped.

It is not clear from Mr Lawrence’s email what the review means specifically for the Lloyd’s Standard Form of Salvage Agreement (Lloyd’s Open Form – LOF) but without the Lloyd’s Salvage Arbitration Branch, and the association with Lloyd’s, LOF will be gravely, if not fatally, damaged.

The International Salvage Union (ISU) is the global trade association representing the interests of organisations which operate as main contractors in marine salvage cases. We have some 50 members and they are individually party to the great majority of the Lloyd’s Open Forms agreed each year. Our members have a proud record of using LOF to save lives, protect the environment and save property.

It is the ISU’s position that to discontinue the support and endorsement of Lloyd’s for Lloyd’s Open Form would have a serious impact on safety at sea and a potentially significant impact on the environment as well as the possibility of catastrophic losses to communities reliant on the sea for their livelihoods. There would be increased danger to seafarers and an inevitable increase in loss of property such as hull, cargo and in businesses affected ashore.

The Lloyd’s Open Form has had a truly global, recognisable identity in the maritime sector for more than 100 years and is the “contract of choice” for emergency response where those at sea face imminent peril. It was designed by the Lloyd’s insurance market specifically for the benefit of the market and its success is based on world-wide understanding and acceptance of it as the “go to” contract.

The marine business of Lloyd’s may have diminished over the years but, at the same time, values of ship, cargo and bunkers – and importantly the complexity of many cases – has increased significantly. Indeed, over the past 10 years, the average total salved values of ISU members’ LOF cases is more than US$1 billion each year. And of course there can also be much greater financial exposure beyond the immediate casualty, as the world saw clearly in the recent case of the containership Ever Given, grounded in the Suez Canal and refloated by an ISU member, which disrupted trade globally.

The ISU has been tireless in its support for Lloyd’s and the use of Lloyd’s Open Form and actively promotes its use. We urge you to continue to provide the services of the Lloyd’s Salvage Arbitration Branch and support for the Lloyd’s Open Form because the entirety of the global shipping emergency response industry is based upon, and relies upon, LOF.
Shipowners, insurers and salvage contractors all agree that the availability of LOF is essential to sustain the provision of the salvage services that prevent and mitigate potentially huge losses and protect the environment. The consequential losses of a major shipping casualty extend far beyond the marine sector. It affects those industries and property ashore that benefit from the coast such as tourism and fisheries and many others in the global supply chain.

Lloyd’s has interests in many sectors beyond marine but without the security and ease of use of Lloyd’s Open Form it is likely that disasters such as the Wakashio will increase and the great benefits of the associated SCOPIC regime will be lost with a return to the use of the Salvage Convention’s Article 14, turning the clock back more than 20 years.
In the absence of LOF there will be a direct impact on insurers and their clients; financial exposure to losses will increase and shipowners and property underwriters will be wide open to common law salvage claims.

We recognise that Lloyd’s must be mindful of costs and that the use of LOF has declined, and we also know that history alone is not a good enough reason to persist with an activity. However, the implications for the shipping industry, coastal states, local and international business and loss prevention go far beyond the place of the LSAB within Lloyd’s.

The association with Lloyd’s – a world scale insurance market and a brand trusted implicitly by all connected with shipping – assures the fairness and integrity of the Lloyd’s Open Form contract and cannot be replaced.

We also believe there are potentially very serious reputational consequences for Lloyd’s which risks being perceived to be abandoning its interest in preventing marine casualty.

The Executive Committee of the International Salvage Union

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ISU statement regarding Ever Given refloating, Suez Canal

This week we have again seen the great benefit provided to shipping and the world economy by professional salvors – members of the International Salvage Union – who are in most cases the only agency with the experience, equipment and people to undertake the kind of job successfully completed by ISU members, Smit Salvage and Nippon Salvage, working together with the Suez Canal Authority.

The case of the Ever Given was particularly visible but the 50 members of the ISU have an excellent track record of dealing successfully with incidents involving all classes of vessel in locations around the world in all kinds of conditions. Statistics recently published by ISU show that in 2020 its members provided nearly 200 salvage services.

Keeping world trade moving is a key part of the salvor’s role, ensuring that all kinds of goods are kept safe and delivered to their destination intact and as soon as possible.

By providing their services, the salvors preserve the value of the goods and prevent or reduce potentially huge losses for the ship and cargo owners’ insurers and re-insurers. In the recent Suez Canal case, the operation had far wider benefit by unblocking this vital trade artery for hundreds of other cargo vessels.

Environmental protection may not have been a critical consideration in the Suez Canal but in many cases it is central to the salvage operation and in 2020 ISU members services involved vessels carrying 2.5 million tonnes of potential pollutants.

The current case clearly demonstrates the value provided to world shipping and society in general by the professional marine salvors and how important it is that a viable marine salvage industry and resources are sustained and kept available worldwide. 

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ISU members provided vital services to vessels carrying 2.5 million tonnes of potential pollutants in 2020

Members of the International Salvage Union (ISU) provided 191 services to vessels carrying 2,538,210 tonnes of potentially polluting cargo and fuel during operations in 2020. It demonstrates the critical role of professional salvors in protecting the marine environment. The data come from the results of the ISU’s Annual Pollution Prevention Survey for operations in 2020.

President of the ISU, Richard Janssen, said: “Governments have talked for many years about zero tolerance for pollution, but society now demands it. Widespread public support for the environmental movement shows that care for the environment is now mainstream and has put it at the heart of political and economic decision making. ISU members have been preventing pollution for decades and we are proud of our great contribution to environmental protection.” 

The 2020 figures show a small increase from 2019’s total of 2.3 million tonnes. One or two VLCCs can have a significant impact on the overall numbers. For example, crude oil in 2020 was 360,733 tonnes, similar to 2019’s 400,000 tonnes while the equivalent in 2018 was 978,000 tonnes.

Cargoes of refined oil products also fell in 2020 to 112,096 – less than half of 2019 figure of 278,046 tones. At the same time, chemical cargoes nearly doubled to 133,150 tonnes in 2020. The number of containers involved in ISU members’ services in 2020 rose to 33,523 TEU up from 25,799 TEU in 2019. The number of containers in cases in 2020 equates to 502,845 tonnes (allowing a nominal 15 tonnes per TEU.)

Bulk cargoes decreased slightly to 744,246 tonnes in 2020. This category includes products such as coal, scrap steel, grains, soya and cement. A number of bulk cargoes are not included as potential pollutants and ISU members also provided services to bulkers carrying 521,326 tonnes of non-hazardous dry bulk – mainly metal ores. Bunker fuel, at 111,886 tonnes stays very similar to the 115,811 tonnes identified in cases in 2019 and remarkably similar to the 111,796 tonnes for 2018.

A number of the services noted in the survey did not record the quantity of bunkers or the cargo type. The survey does not include any of the cases for former ISU member Ardent.

Richard Janssen added: “The numbers, when compared with other years, show the variability of our industry. We are always transparent with the survey – we know that not all of these potential pollutants were at risk of going into the sea. Some cases will have had limited danger but many others will have carried a real risk of substantial environmental damage. Continued global provision of professional salvage services – those offered by members of the ISU – is essential.”   

2020 ISU Pollution Prevention Survey Results (tonnes)

  2020 2019
Number of services 191 214
Bunker fuel 111,886 115,811
Crude oil 360,733 400,000
Refined oil  products 112,096 278,046
Chemicals 133,150 70,944
Bulk polluting/hazardous 744,246 961,061
TEU – tonnes equivalent 502,845 (33,523 TEU@nominal 15 tones/TEU) 386,985 (25,799 TEU@nominal 15 tonnes/TEU)
Other pollutants 51,928 95,909
Totals 2,538,210 2,308,756
Bulk, non-polluting 521,326 229,731

Of the 191 services in 2020, variants of wreck removal/marine services contracts were used in 22 services; Lloyd’s Open Form – 34 services. Towage contracts accounted for 45 services; Japanese Form – 11 services; Fixed Price and Lump Sum – 7 services; Day Rate – 21 services and other contracts were used in 36 services. The Turkish Form was used in 15 services.

The survey was first conducted by ISU in 1994 and the methodology was updated in 2014 to include a wider range of potential pollutants including containers and hazardous and dirty bulk cargoes. The survey takes account of the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code), Intercargo guidance, P&I Club guidance; International Tanker Owners’ Pollution Federation publications and the International Solid Bulk Cargoes Code.

In the period 1994 to end-2020, ISU members have provided services to casualty vessels carrying 36,266,570 tonnes of potential pollutants, an average of 1.4 million tonnes per year.

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