The International Salvage Union

The International Salvage Union is the trusted and unified global voice of its members who facilitate world trade by providing marine services which save life, protect the environment, mitigate risk and reduce loss. 


  • Encourages high standards of operation and conduct by its members.
  • Promotes the value and benefit of its members’ services including protection of the marine environment.
  • Engages with shipowners, insurers and other key stakeholders to represent its members’ interests.
  • Works with inter-governmental, governmental and non-governmental organisations to improve delivery of marine services and safety at sea.
  • Is a source of information and expertise about marine salvage and major marine projects and promote best practice and cooperation through networking opportunities.

ISU has a membership of some 55 marine salvage companies from more than 30 countries. Membership of the ISU is for companies with a track record as a main contractor in salvage operations. Members must demonstrate a high level of expertise associated with the professional salvor and conduct their activities ethically and in line with the ISU Code of Conduct.

Associate membership of the ISU is for organisations and professionals with an interest in salvage, including P&I Clubs, other marine insurers, marine law firms, marine consultancies, national response organisations, clean-up specialists and others. The ISU has over 80 Affiliated and Associate Members. Affiliate members are typically other similar marine trade associations.

ISU is governed by an Executive Committee consisting of the President, Vice-President and up to ten individuals drawn from member companies. The membership and Executive Committee are supported by a secretariat consisting of the secretary general, legal adviser, communications adviser and a finance/administration assistant. The ISU Secretariat is based in London.

A General Meeting takes place each year, to which all full members are invited. The ISU Executive Committee meets on a quarterly basis.

The ISU has an important role in legal and commercial developments concerning marine salvage. It is a member of the Lloyd’s Salvage Group and SCOPIC Committee. It has consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC) and the Comité Maritime International (CMI).

The ISU liaises with and meets with many organisations on a regular basis, including the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) The European Tugowners’ Association (ETA), INTERTANKO, BIMCO,  the International Group of P&I Clubs, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the London Admiralty Solicitors’ Group, the United States Coast Guard and the European Union.

The International Marine Salvage Industry

The international marine salvage industry provides essential services to the world’s maritime and insurance communities. ISU members: 

  • Offer core salvage services which protect the environment and prevent disasters.
  • Offer a range of marine services in addition to salvage including pollution control.
  • Facilitate trade through their salvage operations.
  • Are partners with property owners to mitigate risk and minimise loss.
  • Are creative, innovative, safe contactors.
  • Have great experience of excellent project management, successfully delivering complex major projects like removal of wrecks.

Salvors will always respond to a casualty no matter the circumstances or the challenges that they face. They have a reputation for innovation and success as demonstrated by high profile casualties such as the “Costa Concordia” in Italy.

There has been a decline in emergency response and Lloyd’s Open Form cases. Consolidation of the industry has taken place through mergers and acquisitions and some salvors have diversified their capabilities and offer a range of other marine services.

A challenges facing the industry is the increase in vessel size, particularly in container ships, LNG carriers, ore carriers and passenger ships. These new mega-ships present difficulties due to their sheer size. However, ISU members will always try to respond and provide a solution to owners and insurers.