#1 Mega Boxship Casualties

This part focuses on casualties involving very large container vessels, which Mr Kendall-Masden supports that the size increases the risk of accidents, as a major casualty involving big vessels could easily lead to environmental disasters and a company's financial exposure.

The sheer size of these very large container ships – now in excess of 21,000 TEUs - amplifies the technical challenges faced in a salvage or wreck removal operation.

Moreover, in the possibility of very large vessels running aground, it would present many challenges to cranes trying to lift them. In addition, if the ship were listing, then that would present an even greater challenge still. Once the cargo is off, there is then the challenge of where to process and store potentially thousands of sound and distressed containers.

Mr Kendall-Marsden quotes:

When people think of very large container ships, they generally think about the ship itself and the thousands of containers on board. But in terms of oil pollution, it is worth remembering that a very large container ship carries as much bunkers as a small tanker does cargo, having bunker tanks that may have a capacity of over 14,000m. Whilst the risk of a catastrophic release of all bunkers on board should be remote, bunker removal costs are likely to be substantial.

A very large vessel after being salvaged it seeks for a port of refuge; Thus, it is sometimes hard to find a suitable port for the vessel's type.

In a casualty involving a fire on board a very large container ship, significant volumes of firefighting water are likely to be required for extinguishing the fire and cooling. That water could affect the ship’s trim, stability and draft.  If the ship is aground, the firefighting water on board could also have a bearing on the ground reaction and the ship’s residual strength. If containers have ruptured and cargo escaped into the holds, the ability to pump out the water is likely to be compromised, prolonging the operation.

#2 Waste Management

Many are the examples recently, that show wreck removals resulting to major environmental disasters and marine pollution.

In the case of extinguishing the fire, firefighting water will become contaminated and will need to be pumped from the casualty and disposed of in an environmentally-sensitive way.  Consideration should be given to whether reception facilities are available locally, and what permits and permissions are required to transport, treat and dispose of the water.

The more water used, the greater the scale of the issue.

Yet, the law for this issue is based on the Baseline Convention 1992. According to the Convention, it is important, when in casualty cases, to consider whether ‘waste’ has been generated, the classification of that waste and whether proposals for the movement and disposal of the waste comply with the Convention as incorporated into local law.

#3 Technology

Although connectivity can bring advantages, it also lead to delays in important decisions being taken, partly through undermining the authority and autonomy of the master who may be best-placed to make the call.

Technological increase leads to a better ability on detecting pollutants.

#4 The Changing Nature of the Salvage Industry

Mr Kendall-Marsden notes that the salvage industry doesn't do much to diversify. For instance, there is currently only one female Special Casualty Representative on a panel of just under 50.

There's also the emergence of different players threatening the hegemony of the traditional salvors in wreck removal operations.

#5 Wildcards

  1. Predatory Pricing: There are examples of salvage operations where they are offered for SCOPIC rates and not commercial ones.
  2. Equipment: There's a decline in the investment in heavy salvage and wreck removal equipment on the part of the salvage industry.
  3. IMO 2020: Some shipowners have chosen to fit exhaust gas scrubbers and continue to burn regular heavy fuel oil; others to switch to low sulphur fuel.

Mr Kendall-Marsden concludes

 I think that despite improvements in safety we are likely to see wreck removal costs continuing to increase. The influence and involvement of the authorities will continue to be an important factor, driven by environmental concerns and greater visibility through modern news media. Advances in technology will provide solutions where perhaps none existed before and this, too, is likely to increase costs.