How do we respond in a salvage scenario? I picked up a scenario of grounding at the Port of Hedland. The authorities of Pilbara in Australia requested a simulated salvage scenario.

What are the salvage concepts?

-The sequence of events

-The incident

-Grounding conditions

-Course of events

-The response

-Marine salvage engineering

The incident

A typical capsize bulk carrier departed the Port of Hedland on 6 January 2018 (the date is always important in an incident) bound for China with cargo of 203,032 mt of iron ore and 22 crew onboard. The ship ran aground just after the pilot disembarked by helicopter.

Grounding conditions

The rudder suddenly struck in position 20 degrees to starboard, the vessel’s speed was 12 knots at the time. They dropped the anchor, reduced to 5 knots and the vessel grounded shortly after.

Key steps in the initial phase of the response

Activation and contracting: This is information from the moment an owners activates a salvage company. First of all, the contract is between the owners themselves and the salvage company; there is no intermediary. Salvage companies are not accident investigators, they are casualty investigators. We need to know the facts in order to respond. So before we even do a remote assessment, we need to get information from owners. We don’t know the vessel. We don’t know why the incident happened, what happened; this is vital information owners/operators have to give us in advance, so we can evaluate the situation.

Remote assessment: There is no time to respond, so we usually contact the Master remotely by phone.

Mobilization of Advance Team and Onsite Assessments

Then if needed, we mobilize the DMD advanced team and we do a non-site assessment.

In a place like Australia, I would not have anybody there other than a remote assessor, a local assessor. We usually activate him in this location out of Perth. Perth is two hours by plane, three flights, one quantas, two virgin Australia flights. You understand that mobilization logistics in our operations is the most important aspect of it.

And then, deployment timelines. How fast can we get there? The sooner we get the better, the authorities feel better with us being there.

The operational methodology: Do we just refloat the vessel with tugs or do we go to more complicated scenarios?

The response on site is vital, especially if we need to have the control to manage the authorities’ expectation, you need experts to be on site. Based on the available data provided by shipowner, salvor will prepare the preliminary salvage plan remotely from base to shipowner/class approval, and follow up with submission to related authority – in this case, AMSA / Pilbara Port Authority - for approval.

The salvage plan: The salvage plan is the next step, after we make all the evaluation. In the specific case, a decision was made to blow down the tanks, to minimize the damage to the vessel. Everything is verified with vessel’s class. In particular, during the site investigation and findings, we anticipated variations to the initial plans/solutions. To ensure we do not miss any opportunity to salve the vessel, we derived a methodology by pressurising the breached compartments in order to carry out the refloat attempt at high water within the shortest time frame available after grounding incident, as the tide was expected to start falling from 9 January 2018.

Part of the salvage plan is what we are going to do after the vessel is refloated, which anchorage we are going to take it to, where the underwater inspection will take place. Yes, we need tugs, but salvage companies are not tugboat owners.

The salvage engineering: If there is need for lightering plan, salvage naval architects will work together with the classification society to verify all numbers. To verify an owners/ operator that what we are doing is right, there are several software in place, for instance HECSALV is one of it which usually calculates the outflow analysis, the grounding analysis with the GHS software, all the engineering working cooperation with the class and all the records for the actions taken.

Now the big question: How much?

$1.00 for turning the screw;

$9,999.00 for knowing which screw to turn.

Above text is an edited version of Mr. Psyllos’ presentation during the 2019 SAFETY4SEA Athens Forum.

You may view his presentation herebelow.


The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.

About Elias Psyllos, Vice President Commercial and Risk Management, T&T Salvage 

Elias Psyllos is the Vice President of the Commercial and Risk Management Department of T&T Salvage based in Houston Texas. He is responsible for commercial, legal, and technical support to daily global company operations. He supports business development and client relationship management activities. He also oversees internal insurance and risk management matters to include policy management and claims reporting and acts as Project Manager on company operations. Prior experience includes 15 years as a Risk Manager for a London-Greek Shipowning Group. He was overall responsible for the Group’s Marine Insurance and claims. For 4 years he served as a member of the Group’s Marine Operations Team, actively involved in the management of Oil Tanker and Bulk Carrier fleets.