Marine salvage is the process of rescuing a ship, its cargo, or other property from peril. Salvage encompasses rescue towing, putting out fires, patching or repairing a ship, refloating a sunken or grounded vessel, moving a disabled vessel in order to clear navigation channels, and raising sunken ships or their cargo. Equipment involved in salvage operations may include cranes, floating dry docks, and support vessels (such as tugboats). Commercial divers may be called upon to perform underwater tasks and monitor progress below the surface.

Protecting the marine environment from pollution from cargoes such as oil or other contaminants is often an important part of salvage activities. Usually the vessel or valuable parts of the vessel or its cargo may be recovered for its resale value, or for scrap. The vast majority of salvage operations are contracted to qualified seamen and engineers working as professional salvors. Usually, contracted agents expect no financial reward unless the salvage operation is at least partially successful.

If salvage is not performed under a contract, then the rescuer must act voluntarily and aside from any legal duty to act, other than the acknowledged duty to render assistance to those in peril at sea or to attend after a collision. If the owner or the owner’s agent is still on the ship, they can refuse offers of assistance. A vessel found entirely deserted or abandoned without hope or intention of recovery is considered derelict and is fair game for anyone who comes across it. It is not true, however, that the rescuer or salvor automatically becomes the owner of the property. The owner always has the option to reclaim his property by paying an appropriate reward.

Tags: Salvage

(Photo: Sri Lanka Navy)

Sri Lanka Seeks at Least $1.9 Million from Owner of Fire-hit Tanker

Sri Lanka is seeking at least 340 million rupees ($1.9 million) from the owner of…

Credit: Sri Lanka Navy

Sri Lanka Working to Stop Fuel Leak from Fire-hit Oil Tanker

A salvage team is still trying to plug a fuel leak from the fire-stricken New Diamond…

Credit: Sri Lanka Navy

Sri Lanka: Fire-hit Tanker Towed Further Offshore as Wind Picks Up

The Sri Lankan navy has towed a fire-stricken supertanker further out to sea to keep…

(Credit: Sri Lanka Navy)

Oil Slick Spotted Near Fire-stricken Tanker

Sri Lanka's navy said on Tuesday that an oil slick had been spotted a kilometer from a loaded supert

Credit: Sri Lanka Navy

Sri Lanka Has "Better Control" Over Fresh Fire on Supertanker, Navy Says

Sri Lanka has "better control" over a fresh fire on a loaded supertanker off the…

A Coast Guard pollution responder observes the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel for possible pollution impacts after the dredging vessel Waymon L Boyd sank in Corpus Chrisiti, Texas. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Two Dead, Two Missing in Corpus Christi Dredge Fire

The bodies of two of four workers missing after a dredging vessel caught fire and…

(Photo: USCG Great Lakes)

Passenger Vessel Grounds in the Saint Lawrence River

All passengers have safely debarked a passenger vessel that ran aground and began…

(Photo: Mobilisation Nationale Wakashio)

Wakashio Bow Towed to Deeper Waters

The bow section of the stricken bulk carrier Wakashio has been towed to deeper waters…

(Photo: Mobilisation Nationale Wakashio)

India Sends Team to Mauritius to Tackle Wakashio Oil Spill

India has sent technical equipment and a team of specialists to Mauritius to help…

(Image: Med Marine)

Schottel to Equip Kenya's Powerful New Tug

German propulsion systems manufacturer Schottel says it has secured a contract with…

A crane transfers the final lifting lug to be welded to the hull of the Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, June 3, 2020. The 16 lifting lugs will provide connection points for the 255-foot tall Versabar VB 10,0000 crane to fasten to in order to secure sections of the hull as they are cut from the wreck during the Golden Ray’s removal. (Photo: St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Golden Ray Salvage Operations Resume

Salvage operations to remove the overturned car carrier Golden Ray from St. Simons…

(Photo: Australian Pumps)

Aussie Pumps Wins Korean Navy Contract

A Sydney base pump manufacturer and defense contractor has won a contract, to supply…

Related Articles

Port Authority

A port authority operates ports and other transportation infrastructure for a special-purpose district. Whether operated directly by the government or in cooperation with government agencies, North American port authorities are public entities and are governed by a board or commission.

Naval Architecture

Naval architecture is the field of engineering which deals with the design, construction and repair of ships, boats, and other marine vehicles. Ship and vessel design relies on many of the same technologies and engineering expertise found on shore…


Marine salvage is the process of rescuing a ship, its cargo, or other property from peril. Salvage encompasses rescue towing, putting out fires, patching or repairing a ship, refloating a sunken or grounded vessel, moving a disabled vessel in order to clear navigation channels…


Sonar is a technique that uses sound to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels, and to observe the distance and velocity of underwater objects. The acoustic frequencies used vary from extremely low (infrasonic) to very high (ultrasonic).

Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction

Shipbuilding is the construction of ships, which takes place in a specialized facility known as a shipyard. Shipbuilders, also called shipwrights, are workers which specialize in vessel construction and repair. The construction of boats is called boat building.
Maritime Reporter E-News subscription

Maritime Reporter E-News is the maritime industry's largest circulation and most authoritative ENews Service, delivered to your Email five times per week

Subscribe for Maritime Reporter E-News