The nature of the challenge for salvors in responding to an ultra large container ship (ULCS) casualty.
“The shipping industry is not ready to cope with a large boxship casualty, and its ability to respond to a cruise ship grounding is also questionable” (McMahon 2013).
McMahon, L. (2013), Bigger Ships, bigger Risk – Lloyd’s List Friday 20th December – available at https://www.lloydslist.com/II/sector/Insurance/article434430.ece?service=print
It will be commercial salvage companies who respond when there is a large scale casualty. To respond effectively to an Ultra Large Container Ship (ULCS) casualty salvors will need specialised equipment and personnel ready and available to deal with whatever has occurred. Can commercial salvage companies justify investment in such equipment and personnel when their traditional sources of salvage income are under threat from the falling numbers of salvage opportunities? – The number of traditional salvage opportunities has been steadily declining – a positive result of the decline in ship casualty rates as a consequence of the success of the inspection regimes designed to eliminate sub-standard shipping.
In spite of falling ship accident rates it has not proven possible to eliminate accidents completely. The grounding of the CSCL Indian Ocean on a sandbank in the River Elbe in Germany in February 2016 was a timely reminder to the shipping industry just how difficult dealing with an Ultra Large Container Ship (ULCS) incident will be.
Should international salvage law be amended to encourage salvors to make the necessary investment in specialised equipment and personnel so they are better able to respond to
the salvage challenges the shipping industry now presents? Or should another way be found to deal with this problem?