American Salvage Assoc

THE AMERICAN SALVAGE ASSOCIATION THE AMERICAN SALVAGE ASSOCIATION SAVING THE SHIPS I t’s an unwritten law of the seas that all vessels have a duty to give reasonable assistance to other ships in distress in order to save life - but they are under no obligation to salve or save the vessel. For millennia, that activity has been left to the salvors – the seamen, workers, and engineers who recover a ship and/or its cargo after a shipwreck or other maritime casualty. A rough estimate suggests that, currently, there are about three mil- lion shipwrecks littering the planet’s ocean floor – every- thing from 10,000-year-old dugout canoes, to history’s many commerce and war vessels, to today’s largest, ocean-going container ships. The laws of salvage, how- ever, have been codified in many different places over the centuries, based on the concept that a person who recovers another person’s ship or cargo after peril or loss at sea is entitled to a reward commensurate with the value of the property so saved, or the property, itself. Indeed, salving for profit has, at times, been a lucrative industry. For example, be- tween 1828 and the 1850s, Key West, Florida was consid- ered the richest city, per capita, in the United States, mostly because of the treacherous reefs just seven miles off its shores. There were wrecks aplenty, many with valuable cargo in their holds. So, salving was the town’s primary AT A GLANCE THE AMERICAN SALVAGE ASSOCIATION WHAT: A trade association of maritime salvage companies and allied organizations WHERE: Alexandria, Virginia WEBSITE: