ISU underscores its importance to environmental protection
The Naval Architect: April 2019
These industry changes prompted the ISU to publish a revised strategic plan last year, acknowledging that while LOFs still had an important function, the days when over a hundred or more such contracts might be signed were probably over. Instead, the ISU is keen to promote the wealth of expertise and experience its members can bring to salvage operations, particularly with regard to pollution prevention.
“We understand we’re working in a new social paradigm in which protection of the environment is absolutely essential,” ISU spokesperson James Herbert told delegates at ISU’s Associate Members Day in London on 20 March. “Commercial salvors save lives, save property and mitigate risk in advance through our work with owners and insurers. And of course we reduce loss if the worst happens. But we also want people to understand that the work our members do facilitates world trade.”
Herbert highlighted a number of cases, such as the 2016 stranding of the 19,000TEU container ship CSCL Indian Ocean on the River Elbe, which might have blocked the Port of Hamburg if not for speedy towage intervention. “This took a huge amount of the resources of ISU members, including 12 or so tugs and a significant amount of dredging to get [the ship] out.”
The emphasis on economising, Herbert stressed, had the potential to one day come at the cost of some kind of major disaster. ISU members, however, could provide a “gold standard of high-quality engineer solutions”, ranging from the relatively basic clean-up of crude oil from a beach to thermal imaging of a shipwreck on the seabed that may be leaking bunker fuel.
For the past 25 years, the ISU has conducted an annual Pollution Prevention Survey of its members, in which salvors return information on services they’ve conducted over the previous 12 months and the quantities of potential pollutants (cargo and bunker fuel) involved in the operations. More recently, the scope of the survey, which originally focused on oil cargoes, has been expanded to include other pollutants such as containers. “Containers often contain pollutants and if they go overboard they also become a danger to navigation, so with the growth in the container trade it seemed sensible to record them,” said Herbert.
The statistics for the latest survey, conducted in 2018, appear to support this decision. While the number of incidents concerning vessels carrying crude and refined oil products was up to 1,302,988tonnes from 933,198tonnes in 2017, such fluctuations can often be attributed to one or two extra incidents across the year. However, the sharp rise in containers involved in salvage cases, measuring 59,874TEU from 45,655TEU a year earlier, is indicative of a growing trend reflected by the increasing number of container ship fires.