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Int'l Salvage Union Reports Sharp Drop in Revenue in 2022

Ever Forward
Tugs work to refloat the boxship Ever Forward in the Chesapeake Bay, April 2022 (USCG)

Published Jul 16, 2023 9:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

2022 was a tough year for commercial salvors, according to the International Salvage Union. Across the union's membership, revenue fell to $241 million from $391 million the year before. Income from Lloyd's Open Form (LOF) cases and wreck removals both fell by half. 

"Economic conditions are challenging and activity and income for our industry is volatile year-on-year. The general trend towards a smaller number of larger and more complex cases enhances that annual variability," said Capt. Nick Sloane, ISU's president. "The numbers in this survey reflect the period when the world was still fully contending with the Covid pandemic which made operations and logistics more challenging."

Courtesy ISU

Wreck removal is an important source of income for salvors, and removals were slim in 2022. ISU's members took in $55 million from 32 operations, dramatically down from the $108 million they earned from 56 operations in 2021. 

Lloyds Open Form (LOF) cases, once a mainstay of the industry, fell to a record low level of $66 million. There were only 26 LOF response cases worldwide, accounting for a minority (40 percent) of all emergency response revenue and just 21 percent of the case count. SCOPIC revenue also fell, down to $21 million from $42 million the year before. Response operations conducted under other contract formats came in at $100 million.

"We continue to work closely with key stakeholders to ensure that there is continued global provision of professional salvage services," said Sloane. “Professional salvors protect the environment, reduce risk and mitigate loss. They also keep trade moving – which is demonstrated so clearly when there are large containership cases."