Home > Circuit Court Admiralty Cases > Salvage

The following are digests and links to Circuit Court Admiralty Cases that have as an issue salvage:

R.M.S. Titanic v. The Wrecked and Abandoned Vessel
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 12, 2002

Salvage/In Rem Action: R.M.S. Titanic, Inc. ("RMST") is the salvor-in-possession of the submerged wreck R.M.S. Titanic and artifacts salvaged from the wreck. But RMST's salvage lien in the artifacts has not converted to title in the artifacts. RMST must first complete the salvage service that it intends to perform and have its salvage reward determined. Only after its reward is determined can it seek to enforce the lien against the artifacts themselves.

Sea Hunt, Inc. v. Unidentified Vessels, Kingdom of Spain
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
July 21, 2000

Abandoned Shipwreck Act ("ASA"): Under admiralty law, where an owner comes forward to assert ownership in a shipwreck, abandonment must be shown by express acts, thus salvor failed to prove that Spain had abandoned its naval vessels for purposes of the Abandoned Shipwreck Act where it failed to show an express abandonment by clear and convincing evidence. International Law: A standard of express abandonment is also required under the 1902 Treaty of Friendship and General Relations between the United States and Spain. The 1763 Definitive Treaty of Peace between France, Great Britain, and Spain, which ended the Seven Years War and transferred most of Spain's territories in the new world to Great Britain, does not contain clear and convincing evidence of the "express abandonment" of the Spanish naval vessels. Salvage: The salvor is not entitled to a salvage award since it is the right of the owner of any vessel to refuse unwanted salvage.

United States v. Ex USS Cabot/Dedalo
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
July 1, 2002

Salvage/Maritime Liens: A successful salvage claim requires three proofs: (1) marine peril; (2) voluntary service rendered when not required as an existing duty or from a special contract; and (3) success in whole or in part, or contribution to the success of the operation. Since the Coast Guard proved tug assistance to the vessel pursuant to its mandatory obligations under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, it was not acting voluntarily and hence had no valid salvage claim or salvage lien against the vessel. 

Adams v. Unione Mediterranea di Sicurta
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
August 14, 2000

Salvage: The law of salvage, rather than the law of finds, is applicable absent clear and convincing evidence that the owner of the sunken steel cargo made an express declaration abandoning title, thus where owner had not expressly abandoned cargo, but had assigned rights in the cargo to its underwriters, the underwriters retained title to the sunken steel cargo. Since the steel cargo had not been abandoned, the salvors through their salvage efforts did not become owners of the cargo and by selling the cargo were liable for negligent conversion. Salvors were, however, entitled to an offset for a salvage award since they had not acted in bad faith in salvaging the cargo. Marine Insurance: The negligent conversion was not an "accident" and thus the salvors' liability was not covered under the relevant general liability policy.

Yukon Recovery v. Ocean Mar, Inc.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 7, 2000

Salvage: The subrogated underwriter of gold cargo lost in 1901 had not abandoned the cargo. The district court properly granted priority to salvor Ocean Mar by virtue of its equitable claim as first finder and its salvage contract with the subrogated underwriter.

International Aircraft Recovery v. United States
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
July 17, 2000

Salvage: The admiralty law of salvage permits the owner of a vessel in marine peril to decline the assistance of others so long as only the owner's property interests are at stake, thus the United States was entitled to reject the salvor's efforts to salvage a Navy bomber sunk off the coast of Florida. Whether the salvor is eligible for a salvage award for efforts in obtaining the location of the submerged bomber, videotaping the wreck, and returning the plane's canopy and radio mast to dry land depends on when the United States rejected the salvage efforts.

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