Towage and Salvage
Understanding the difference between towage and salvage
TOWAGE AND SALVAGE
Maritime law is a branch of law that deals with the legal issues arising from the use of the sea and other navigable waters, such as rivers, lakes, and canals. Maritime law covers a wide range of topics, such as maritime contracts, maritime torts, maritime liens, maritime insurance, maritime jurisdiction, and maritime arbitration. Two of the most important and common topics in maritime law are towage and salvage. Towage is the service of moving a vessel or object by another vessel, usually a tug or towboat, for a fee or reward. Towage can be performed for various purposes, such as assisting a vessel in entering or leaving a port, maneuvering a vessel in narrow or shallow waters, transporting a vessel or object from one place to another, or providing emergency assistance to a vessel in distress. Towage contracts are usually either express or implied. Express contracts are those that are made verbally or in writing before the towage service is performed, and they specify the terms and conditions of the service, such as the scope, duration, price, and liability of the parties. Implied contracts are those that are inferred from the conduct of the parties or the circumstances of the case, such as when a vessel signals for assistance or accepts an offer of towage without any prior agreement. Salvage is the voluntary and successful rescue of a vessel or object from a marine peril by another vessel without any pre-existing contract or duty. Salvage can be performed for various reasons, such as saving human lives, protecting the environment, preserving property, or obtaining a reward. Salvage contracts are usually either express or implied. Express contracts are those that are made verbally or in writing before the salvage service is performed, and they specify the terms and conditions of the service, such as the scope, duration, price, and liability of the parties. Implied contracts are those that are inferred from the conduct of the parties or the circumstances of the case, such as when a vessel offers or accepts assistance without any prior agreement. Towage and salvage are both subject to certain legal principles and rules that may affect their validity, interpretation, and enforcement. For example, towage and salvage contracts are generally considered to be contracts of utmost good faith, which means that the parties must act honestly and fairly towards each other and disclose any material facts that may affect the performance or risk of the service. Towage and salvage contracts are also subject to the doctrine of deviation, which means that if the towing or salvaging vessel deviates from the agreed route or purpose of the service without a reasonable cause or consent of the towed or salvaged vessel, it may lose its right to claim the agreed fee or limit its liability for any damage or loss caused by the deviation. Towage and salvage contracts may also be affected by various statutes and regulations that apply to maritime activities, such as the International Convention on Salvage 1989 (SALVAGE CONVENTION), the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS), the U.S. Inland Navigation Rules 1980 (INLAND RULES), the U.S. Coast Guard regulations 33 CFR Part 83 (NAVIGATION RULES), and the local port rules. These rules may prescribe certain requirements or standards for the equipment, lights, shapes, signals, and maneuvers of towing and salvaging vessels and towed and salvaged vessels or objects. Failure to comply with these rules may result in civil or criminal penalties, as well as liability for any damage or injury caused by negligence or fault. Towage and salvage are essential and valuable services in the maritime industry, but they also involve significant risks and responsibilities for both the towing and salvaging vessels and the towed and salvaged vessels or objects. Therefore, it is important for both parties to understand their rights and obligations under maritime law regarding towage and salvage and to seek legal advice before entering into or performing a towage or salvage contract.