From Academic Kids

Salvage is the process of rescuing the hull, equipment or cargo of a shipwreck. Generally the crew have lost control of or abandoned the ship due to sinking, being stranded on rocks or aground on a shallow sea bed, or simply because its means of propulsion has failed and it is drifting with the wind and tide.

"Salvors" are seamen and engineers who carry out salvage to vessels not owned by themselves. When salvaging large ships, they may use cranes, floating dry docks and divers to lift and repair ships for short journeys to safety towed by a tugboat.

The aim of the salvage may be to repair the vessel at a harbour or dry dock. Another reason for salvage may be to prevent pollution or damage to the marine environment. Alternatively the vessel or valuable parts of the vessel or its cargo may be recovered for its resale value, or for scrap.

When a ship or boat has been rescued or salvaged without prior agreement between the owner and the salvor, the salvor in some circumstances can legally claim recompense or "salvage rights". Although this rule seems to the disadvantage of the owner of the ship, its purpose is to encourage potential salvors to risk their vessels and use their working time for the benefit of both themselves and the ship owner.

Legal disputes do arise from the claiming of salvage rights. To reduce the risk of a claim after an accident, boat owners or skippers often remain on board and in command of the vessel; they do everything possible to minimise further loss and take no action that implies that the ship seeks rescue. If another vessel offers a tow the skipper negotiates the reward before accepting the offer and provides the tow rope.

Some maritime rescue organisations, such as Britain's Royal National Lifeboat Institution, insist the crews of their lifeboats renounce their right to claim salvage rights.

Jetsam are goods that were thrown off a ship, which was in danger, to save the ship. Flotsam are goods that floated off the ship while it was in danger or when it sank. Lagan are goods left in the sea on the wreck or tied to a buoy so that they can be recovered later by the owners. Derelict is abandoned vessels or cargo.

In the United Kingdom, jetsam and flotsam found between the low water and high water tide lines can be claimed by the salvor. On the other hand, lagan and all other cargo and wreckage in the water remain the property of their original owners. Anyone removing those goods must inform the Receiver of Wreck to avoid the accusation of theft. As the leisure activity of Wreck diving is common, there are laws to protect historic wrecks of archaeological importance and to protect war graves.


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