What Constitues Salvage?

A ship looses power 3 miles from the sea buoy (Italian Port). Winds are 35-40 knots onshore. The captain informs the pilots and they agree to send a tug to standby. The engineers get the engines back online and the ship proceeds to the sea buoy. Two miles from the sea buoy the tug arrives and takes a ship’s line from the stern. They enter the harbor and the docking is routine. The pilot gives his chit and the standard tug chit to the captain for a stamp and signature. The word ‘Salvage’ was never mentioned.

One month later the tug files a salvage claim and two months later the ship is arrested in a European shipyard until a bond is posted.

How can this be a salvage claim?

Sounds like somebody didn’t get their carton of “Reds…”

Its not salvage.
There are three requirements to claim salvage…

  1. The vessel being salved has to be in eminent danger.
  2. The vessel salvaging must be doing it voluntarily, it cannot have been hired to do the job
  3. The salvage has to be successful

The third requirement seems to be the only one that applies to this situation. By the sounds of it the vessel was no in any immediate danger and the that was used for the tow in was hired to do the job. The best way to claim salvage is for the two vessels involved to sign a Lloyd’s open forum. Its essentially a contact for salvage and makes the sessions in court afterwords much simpler.

Salvage is simply providing a voluntary service to rescue a vessel and/or its cargo from a peril of the sea. The peril doesn’t have to be great, and the risk and skill of the service doesn’t have to be great. The sevice gives rise to the maritime lien for salvage (and the ability to arrest the ship to enforce the lien). How much the salvors are entitled to for the salvage varies, a court will consider the following when making the award:

The labor expended by the salvors
the skill in rendering the service
The value of the property used to make the salvage and the danger to which it was exposed
The risk to the salvors
The value of the property salved
The degree of danger from which the property was rescued

In your instance, the amount of the award could turn ot to be little more than the standard fees for the tow and pilot.