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Work of the Salvage Association

CAPTAIN ROGER WEEKS, MNI, staff salvage officer for the Salvage Association in Hong Kong, spoke on the work of the Association. The Salvage Association was granted a Royal Charter in 1867 and in 1876 was conducting surveys on a world-wide basis. It Is controlled by a committee of 23 and many underwriters are members. The main purpose of the Salvage Association is to provide knowledge, assistance and advice to minimise damage to ships and their cargoes. Under the terms of the Royal Charter, which was renewed by the Queen in 1971, the Salvage Association is a non-profit making body.

They at present employ 90 surveyors in 30 offices world-wide, with even one office in the Arctic Circle at 70ON in Canada. Of the 90 surveyors, only eight are nautical. Most of the work is concerned with loss prevention, with their major work being on damage surveys. The speaker went on to give some examples of how they interact with other parties.

Where salvage is necessary and it goes to arbitration there will normally be three reports, the salvors, which will invariably place the costs too high, the owners, who will estimate the costs as being very low and the Salvage Association which will usually provide a more accurate estimate closer to the true costs of the salvage because they are independent.

He then went on to tell us about the sort of problems salvors can have and gave the example of a vessel laden with logs where the cargo is of low value which combined with any scrap value of the ship will only provide a minimal award which will not cover the costs.

However, things are changing as recently the IMO has taken steps to ensure that where a useful result can be obtained-e.g., where a salvor just removes fuel oil from a stranded vessel-then they can claim costs plus perhaps 100 per cent.

We were then shown a video on the salvage of the Herald of Free Enterprise.

After the video finished there was a question and answer session in which the speaker said that there were even recruiting problems for the Salvage Association. He mentioned that they cannot find any new surveyors under the age of 45.

Contributed by P. R. Owen, FNI
Seaways January 1990
Postal Address:

The Nautical Institute Hong Kong Branch
c/o Mariners'Club
2 Container Port Road
Kwai Chung N.T. Hong Kong S.A.R  P.R. China
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21 September 2018
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