Marine casualty salvors face perils afloat and red tape ashore

The problems of finding a port of refuge and the consequent danger of increased losses were emphasized at a breakfast briefing on marine casualty response at Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents Club at the end of last month.

Simon Burtham, a Singapore-based director of London-based consultancy TMC Marine, said that after a serious incident, once the situation was stabilized, the next big problem was finding a port of refuge.

He said that there were often difficulties ashore persuading civil servants to take responsibility for disasters at sea

“The longer the ship is out there, the greater the danger the situation will get worse,” said Burtham.

Matthews Daniel loss-prevention executive Simon Ward said that much could be done to avoid or mitigate losses. He blamed cost-cutting as a factor, while noting that sometimes head office procedures surpassed best practice standards, but that this did not carry through to shipboard inspection level. “Marine superintendents are often given responsibilities for too many vessels in the interest of cost reduction,” he said.

Matthews Daniel and TMC Marine are subsidiaries of Paris-based Bureau Veritas.