American Salvage Assoc

business; storehouses and chandleries abound- ed, and people came from all over to bid on the valuable salvaged items. Today, modern salving has expanded its man- date from simply recovering sunken goods for resale, to include firefighting at sea, towing ves- sels for their eventual repair, clearing channels for navigation, and aiming to prevent pollution or damage to the marine environment. Most salvage is carried out by specialist salvage firms with ded- icated crews and equipment, including sophisti- cated diving apparatus, cranes, floating dry docks, and tugboats. Jim Elliott, Vice President of the American Salvage Association (ASA) explains: “The salvage industry includes companies that do emergency towing, emergency cargo, oil lightering (the pro- cess of transferring oil between vessels of differ- ent sizes, usually between a barge and a bulker or oil tanker), commercial diving work,marine fire- fighting–all these types of services to respond to a marine casualty or a vessel in distress; for example, a ship that runs aground, or if it’s on fire and starts to sink, or has some type of mechanical issue.” The ASA was established in Alexandria, Virginia, in 2000, by a group of nine leading U.S. salvors. “Its goal was to improve the nation’s marine salvage capabilities, to continuously improve operational safety in salvage operations, and to develop salvage and marine firefighting regula- tory frameworks,” says Elliott. “At the time, the U.S. Coast Guard was discussing the creation of new regulations for the oversight of salvage response operations in the U.S. So, the ASA worked with the Coast Guard to help develop this regulatory framework.” THE AMERICAN SALVAGE ASSOCIATION The Coast Guard’s new OPA-90 Salvage and Marine Firefighting regulations were finally promulgated in 2008. They clarify the salvage and marine firefighting services that must be identified in vessel response plans, and set up new response time requirements for each of the required salvage and marine firefighting services. “In the U.S., just about every vessel over 400 gross tons needs to have a vessel response plan,” Elliott explains. “On that vessel response plan, it names a salvage and marine firefighter service provider. And so, when there’s a vessel in distress, the primary concern is the safety of all life, min- imizing the effect to the environment, and then saving the ship and preventing things from get- ting worse. The Coast Guard, which is there first for search and rescue, works with the ship owner to activate the vessel response plan, so that we can immediately respond. “In the regulations, there are specific timelines. For example, within one hour, once we are noti- fied, a salvor must perform a remote assessment and begin communicating with the ship to under- stand its nature of distress.We can then respond with salvage tugs, divers, marine firefighters, sal- vage masters; we can have our naval architects looking at the drawings of the ship, so we can understand what’s going on with its stability and to create a plan to solve the problem. “We work side by side with the Coast Guard to develop a salvage plan, including working with the agency’s Salvage Engineering Response Team (SERT). Once the Coast Guard’s Federal On-Scene Coordinator and naval architects review and ap- prove our plan,we move forward with salvaging the ship.We’re part of the first responder community in