Instead of using this time to describe the effect on our membership of the operational challenges, the concerning business environment and financial state of the salvage industry, I am going to briefly discuss how the ISU is regarded and how it is responding to the realities of our business environment. 

It follows on from our work last year to “re-position” our industry – to no longer dwell on the past of “tugs on station” and the “pursuit of LOF above other considerations” and simply face the realities of the current environment. Now, what does that mean?

It means that our members are part of the Owners and Underwriter’s risk mitigation chain and that the ISU strives to be credible and trusted. We continue to promote the value of our members who enable world trade by providing services which save life, protect the environment, mitigate risk and reduce loss.

This year we have commissioned research to properly understand how the ISU and the industry is regarded. The survey was international and had more than 100 respondents.

The headline results show that the “overall satisfaction” with ISU was 7.44 out of a maximum score of 10 – we are told by the company that did the survey that this is a good result so I gladly accept that! 

The responses showed that ISU is considered credible and trustworthy; is thought to participate in appropriate forums and that it promotes the industry, has an international outlook and provides networking opportunities.

For the overall perception of the professional salvage industry – as opposed to ISU – the highest scores were for the industry being competent, reliable and safe. I find that very encouraging!

However, there were some lower scores, though still not bad, for professional salvors being trustworthy and providing value for money.

Our interpretation of the results suggests that we need to increase our interaction with owners and insurers about their present and upcoming challenges and how salvors can support them in that. We also must continue our drive to ensure high ethical and operational standards. But then again, it takes two to tango…

Good progress has been made the last six years or so which is reflected in the negotiated agreements and improved working relationship with IUMI, IG and Lloyds.

Part of the re-positioning of the industry is to recognise that many of our members have chosen to diversify and offer other services in addition to their salvage work. But we will keep making the case for the high standards and technical excellence of the professional salvor – the members of ISU.

And so I want to celebrate the investment that the professional salvors continue to make in updating and renewing stockpiles of equipment with a focus on future needs and especially the investment in our people; Divers, Naval Architects, Engineers, Tug Masters and Salvage Masters who are our lifeblood. We train them and nurture them – and we pay them, even when work is short. All of this represents a huge and credible investment and a continued commitment to provide services professionally when and where they are needed.

Helping others to recognise and appreciate the importance of a properly funded salvage sector is the job of the ISU and our focus for the next year.