What Is Marine Salvage?

Marine salvage involves an emergency response or cleanup response team that is geared at salvaging ships that have run aground or sunk completely. 

Salvage operations differ based on what type of ship is in distress, how severe the damage is, and current weather and sea conditions. Rather than crew members on the troubled vessel performing their own salvage operations, workers called "salvors" are hired. Salvage teams can be commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard or by outside companies.

One of the main types of salvaging is a simple tug back to shore. Tugboats are incredibly strong vessels commissioned to tow other vessels. If a vessel has run aground and can be safely moved to shore with no or minor repairs, it will be towed. Some vessels are too damaged to be towed back to shore. For this, salvage tugs are used. These vessels come outfitted with firefighting gear, diving equipment, and other gear that might be necessary to get a boat ready for tow.

When a vessel has sunk or become submerged, it may be possible to refloat it and tug it back to shore. This type of boat rescue is called an offshore salvage. This is one of the most dangerous types of salvage operations because salvors are exposed to the elements for extended periods of time while they are working to refloat the boat. Workers may have to put their efforts on hold under weather conditions wane to a safe level. Salvors also must pay attention to tides, which means that they have a small window of time in which they can safely extract a vessel.

Removing a Wreck to Avoid Environmental Contamination

A salvage crew may be commissioned to extract wreckage for many reasons. The boat may still be able to be repaired and used again, making the salvage a smart financial move. A crew may be asked to extract the remnants of wreckage because it is unsightly, or it presents a danger to other vessels. 

Another extremely important reason why wreckage will be extracted from the water is to reduce its environmental impact. Ships, especially those that are transporting hazardous cargo such as chemicals and fuel, present a huge risk to the surrounding environment. In the event of an oil leak, the oil slick can endanger the ecosystem which can also have severe impacts for industry in the surrounding areas. The presence of hazardous chemicals also makes extraction riskier, since salvors are exposed to these potentially harmful materials.

Marine salvage is an incredibly dangerous, but necessary, occupation. If you are employed in this industry and have been injured on the job, do not hesitate to speak with a representative from Arnold & Itkin about your rights. As an offshore worker, you have the right to an attorney. By speaking with us, you can learn of your benefits and possible areas for compensation. You are likely covered by the Jones Act or a similar provision in admiralty law that can provide you with the treatment and care necessary for covering medical costs, lost wages, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. This may apply if you are employed as a salvage diver, support personnel, or even a pilot.

For more information and a free consultation regarding a marine salvage accident or injury, call (888) 346-5024 or contact us online.

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