Australia Gets New Special Casualty Representative

By Wendy Laursen 2014-05-02 23:25:00

Drew Shannon is London Offshore Consultants’ latest addition in Australia. Based in Sydney, he’s the latest recipient of Lloyd’s of London’s Special Casualty Representative (SCR) status.

An SCR is appointed by the shipowner, or by the shipowner’s P&I club, to attend salvage operations. The SCR’s role is to use his best endeavors to assist in the salvage of the vessel and to minimize damage to the environment. The salvage master remains in overall charge of the operation, but he must consider the views of the SCR and satisfy his requirements if they are reasonable. 

“It is critical that Australia and, just as importantly, Australasia has the capacity to respond at short notice to any form of shipping or offshore incident, such as grounding, accident or mishap,” says Shannon. “The tyranny of distance from other countries, even relatively close, such as Singapore, adds hours if not days to be able to reach a grounding site. An overseas SCR landing in Australia, New Zealand or a South Pacific country is one thing, but to then travel to a site that may not be close to a capital city, that can take days more.”

LOC has been in Perth for more than 25 years so it's logical for LOC to branch into Sydney, a central hub, says Shannon, to be able to mobilize to any point of the compass. “To service the industries, we need to be agile enough to move in any direction in this region. After all, no-one chooses a convenient location to have an incident.”

When an accident occurs and an SRC has been appointed, the salvage master will present their plan to the SCR who should formally approve the plan if satisfied or, if he disapproves, advise the salvage master in writing. If the SCR approves of the salvage master’s daily reports, he should endorse the reports or prepare a dissenting report setting out his objections.

The SCR prepares a daily cost schedule and then a final report at the end of the services. His prime role is to consider whether any equipment, personnel or procedures being used are unnecessary and, if so, to give written notice to the salvage master. Any payments on account for special compensation are made on the basis of the SCR’s views as to the appropriate equipment or procedure. Once the shipowner appoints an SCR, the salvor may refuse access to any other surveyors and experts, in respect of the salvage services, appointed on behalf of the owner.

The salvage master and the owners of the vessel must cooperate with SCRs and permit them to have full access to the vessel to observe the salvage operation and to inspect such of the ship’s documents as are relevant to the salvage operation. The success of the system depends on the impartiality which SCRs are able to bring to the casualty response, working with the salvors and other interests in the common cause. Transparency is important and SCRs must be careful to ensure that information is made available to all parties and to be mindful that their role is limited to salvage issues alone.

LOC was involved in the Montara incident of north western Australia and provided, from start to finish, to the owners and insurers, a service package of necessary expertise that included authority liaison, tender preparation, contractor liaison and negotiation, tender review and analysis, recommendations for methodology, and on-site surveying and monitoring, until the wreck was removed and redelivered to the owners.

For Shen Neng 1 LOC provided an SCR to attend and remain aboard the casualty to monitor all efforts to salvage the ship. This included, when necessary, government authority liaison, constantly working with the contracted salvors, and providing continual advice and support to owners and underwriters.

LOC also provided ongoing support and advice to the national authority (MNZ) during the Rena incident for all salvage-related issues.

Australia is divided over expanding ports and shipping in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), but this is not necessarily significant for Shannon. “Every casualty holds identical responsibilities for an appointed SCR. An incident occurring within the GBR adds numerous regulatory requirements that come with a designated sensitive area, and all those must be factored fully into consideration.”

LOC provides a full range of services to the shipping industry including governments, the insurance industry and shipping companies, as well as shippers, legal support and the oil and gas industry. The range covers everything from surveying and third party support to direct development and design, and more. “Although our name specifically includes the word ‘offshore’, we are active across the entire maritime spectrum – literally everything that happens ‘off the shore’.

“It's true there are a lot of one-man-bands or very small local firms offering marine services in Australia, however what's proved one of LOC's greatest values is that we bring to the party a global network of 30 offices and decades of experience dealing with the majority of global P&I clubs, owners and agents. That level of support and experience is just not within the scope of smaller or individual local counterparts to provide.”