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Salvage Numbers Continue to Climb After Hurricane Irma


After Hurricane Irma blasted its way through Florida, government officials and salvage crews have recovered approximately 1,500 vessels, according to an article by the Sun Sentinel.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that cleaning up boat accidents and damage after the hurricane has rung up $12.5 million in costs thus far. The final cost is estimated to be in the range of $20 million. At this point, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is paying for 75 percent of those costs, with the state of Florida covering the remaining 25 percent.

By the end of October, recovery efforts led to the salvage of 1,492 vessels. While salvage efforts took place all over the state, there are several concentrated pockets, including the:

  • Florida Keys with 1,101 salvaged vessels;
  • Greater St. Petersburg area with 265 salvaged vessels;
  • Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties with 69 salvaged vessels; and
  • Greater Jacksonville area with 57 salvaged vessels.

Considering the widespread impact of this news development, it feels like a great time to review the law of salvage.

What is the Law of Salvage?

The law of salvage provides a mechanism to reward people for helping out when a vessel or its cargo are in danger. Often referred to legally as “peril,” a vessel can be considered in danger if it is abandoned, sinking, lacking crew or seized by pirates.

A person who provides aid to a vessel or its cargo is referred to legally as a “salvor.” In order to qualify as a salvor, a person must intend to rescue a vessel or its cargo. It is not a requirement that the salvor actually render aid. So long as the salvor intends to commit a rescue – and is actually capable of conducting a rescue – then there may be a claim for salvage.

In order for the law of salvage to apply to a particular situation, there are three major conditions:

  • The vessel or its cargo is lost at sea or other waterway;
  • The salvor located or rescued the vessel or its cargo; and
  • The salvor acted in a way that benefited the vessel or its cargo.

The last condition of the law of salvage is particularly important. The salvor must act in a way that benefits the vessel or its cargo. Stated otherwise, the salvor cannot take reckless action that puts the vessel or its cargo in further danger or risk of damage.

Contact Our Office Today

The arena admiralty and maritime law can be a challenge for anyone to navigate properly. If you need assistance, reach out to Michael F. Guilford, P.A. in Miami, Florida for immediate help.



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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

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