|French fishing vessel Trevignon towing the MS Costa Allegra towards the Seychelles.|
Salvage - that lovely word, it can be tricky to get the money but usually worth the wait. NAUTICAL LOG has been lucky enough to get a small share of the overall amount awarded on two occasions during our sea career and most welcome they were too.
At present the French fishing vessel Trevignon has the MS Costa Allegra under tow, once that towline was passed and accepted the standard maritime salvage rights were established for the FV Trevignon. What happens when the tugs arrive tomorrow is another story and no doubt the maritime lawyers of everyone involved are working overtime to get a contract in place. The French fishing vessel does not have to hand over the towline to the tugs, however the tugs may have their additional towlines accepted by the MS Costa Allegra on a contract basis.
This can get complex and no doubt the French Captain is as familiar with Lloyds Standard Form of Salvage Agreement as is NAUTICAL LOG - but are you. Even though the 'tower' is French and the 'towee' is Italian English Law will apply.
Briefly Lloyds Open Form (LOF) is an international long accepted salvage agreement for all seafarers. It is a "No Cure No Pay" agreement which was put in place in the 19th. Century by Lloyds Insurance of London, United Kingdom. No amount of money is quoted in LOF which is about a page and a half and quite basic. Once the salvage is successful that is "Cured" then an Arbitrator sits down and assesses the entire operation to come up with an Award amount for the "Cure" based on the value of the ship, its cargo and or passengers, risks involved, dangers involved and the overall degree of difficulty.
Usually the Arbitrator is a Queens Counsel of the English Admiralty Bar who follows English Civil Law on Salvage and decides on the Award to the tower vessel. Clearly in the current case of towing the MS Costa Allegra, a passenger vessel, this award could be considerable.
Not so lucky are the 300 seafarers held hostage by pirates off the coast of Puntland, Somalia. They are now under threat of mutilation or death at any moment. NAUTICAL LOG hopes that some day they too will get the consideration offered the passengers of MS Costa Allegra and be taken home to their families. Would that the concern for them was as great as for the Costa Cruises passengers who have to put up with a few of nights without air-conditioning. Some of the hostage seafarers are now in the third year of captivity with no rescue attempts in sight.