The increasing complexity of wreck removal requires specialist advice

The increasing complexity of wreck removal requires specialist advice

Director, Shipping Services | LOC Group

Tricolor: a 50,000 tonne vehicle carrier, which sank in the English Channel and caused subsequent collisions in 2002-03, was deliberately broken up by salvors

In the past, removing wrecks from an area of coastline was conducted from a pragmatic perspective.  Local authorities would make an assessment of the likely dangers to navigation and the impact on the natural environment and then decide if the wreck should be left in situ or taken away for disposal.  Today’s different approach requires almost all wrecks to be removed and the natural environment restored to its original condition.

Environmental management and the increasing size and complexity of modern vessels have significantly added to the cost of removing wrecks in recent years.  MV Rena (which grounded off New Zealand in 2011) and Costa Concordia (which grounded off Italy in 2012) broke all records for wreck removal costs and indications suggest that future wrecks will attract similarly high costs.

Aside from spiralling costs, the complexity of a modern wreck removal project and the length of time a salvage team is required on site has caused many small and medium sized salvors to drop out of the market.  Only the largest companies can now afford the equipment needed to handle a large wreck and only those companies have the people required who can attend and remain on site for many months.

The same holds true for wreck removal consultants and advisors such as LOC.  LOC retains a wealth of expertise that can be immediately diverted to manage the largest wreck removal project in any global location.  Large projects require experienced master mariners to advise on practical nautical aspects; naval architects to analyse removal plans and give technical assessments; and civil engineers to assess related land works such as the construction of underwater platforms, dams and causeways.

Additionally, LOC employs a substantial number of Special Casualty Representatives (SCRs) who are appointed by the SCR committee (part of the Lloyd’s Salvage and Agency Department), having demonstrated their exceptionally high levels of competence over a long period of time.  Lloyd’s defines the role of the SCR as “to monitor the salvage services and liabilities and provide a Final Salvage Report which forms the basis for the settlement of any claim for SCOPIC remuneration against the shipowner.”

LOC employs sufficient staff to enable it to mobilise a team comprising the most relevant individuals and to locate them at the site of the wreck immediately.  With over 30 offices world-wide, we remain in tune with local sensitivities and is able to respond 24/7.  Usually, our team is one of the first to become involved after a casualty.  Initially, the team will advise on appointing the salvage contractor and will remain onsite to oversee the day-to-day management of the removal and clean-up process.

We also have an unrivalled wealth of experience in this field having been involved in majority of major casualty and wreck removal processes over the past 30 years.  The LOC team has hands-on experience of all types of wreck removal activity and is optimally positioned to advise all parties on the most effective and efficient methods.

Wreck removal is a complex and lengthy process.  Any company involved in this activity must be able to demonstrate a depth of experience and expertise in a range of relevant disciplines.  It must also have the strength and capability to remain on site until conditions are suitable for the removal process to get underway.  Added to this, the company requires a global reach, internal capacity and proven ability to react immediately – because maritime casualties are not planned!