The LeadersIn Maritime Law

Ship Salvage Accidents

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 will differ depending on what type of ship is in distress, how severe the damage is, and what kind of weather conditions the crews are facing. Rather than crewmembers on the troubled vessel having to perform their own salvage operations, workers called "salvors" are employed for the job. Salvage teams can either be commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard or outside companies.

One of the main types of salvaging is a simple tug back to shore. Tugboats are incredibly strong vessels that are typically commissioned to tow boats that are much larger in size. If a vessel has run aground and it can be safely moved to shore without repair or only with minor repairs, then it will be towed. Some vessels are far too damaged to be towed back to shore for repairs. For this, salvage tugs are used. These vessels come outfitted with firefighting gear, diving equipment, and other equipment 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 have to 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 a wreckage for a number of 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 a wreckage because it is unsightly or it presents a danger to other vessels. Another extremely important reason why a 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 more risky, since salvors are exposed to these potentially harmful materials.

This is an incredibly dangerous, but necessary, occupation. If you are employed in this industry and were 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 noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering. You may be employed as a salvage diver, support personnel, or even a pilot.

Whatever your occupation, if you were injured on the job during a salvage operation, we would like to speak with you so that you can learn more about your rights. Call us as soon as possible!

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