Two Norwegian Port Towns Get Floating Lumber for Christmas

Image courtesy Redningsselskapet

Published Jan 1, 2020 5:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Fishermen and residents along the coast of Grimstad and Arendal, Norway received an unusual "gift" this holiday season: thousands of board-feet of lumber that were washed off the deck of a cargo ship and onto Norwegian shores. 

On December 8-9, the freighter Isidor encountered a storm during a transit through the North Sea. In the wind and waves, the vessel lost a deck cargo of about 1,200 tonnes of wooden planks over the side. 

The Isidor's operator reported the incident to their insurer and to the appropriate international authorities, according to NRK, but had no idea that it would float into Norwegian waters. Portions of the cargo was spotted off the coast of Grimstad and Arendal several days before Christmas, and fishing vessels and volunteer salvors went to gather as much as possible.  

The Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (Redningsselskapet) rescue boat Inge Steensland recovered two three-tonne bundles of lumber off Arendal on December 22. The boat was called to salvage the bundles by Norway's Coastal Administration, as the giant parcels of wood posed a hazard to navigation. The planks were towed back to Arendal Harbor. "We often see objects coming drifting, but such big things as this are not common. The planks are certainly a danger in the sea," said rescue boat skipper Torjus Sundsdal.

International salvage law does not entitle the salvor to keep all flotsam encountered in navigable waters, but in general, he or she is entitled to make a claim for compensation based on the value of the goods. Eligibility may come down to a matter of an insurance claim, according to the Norwegian authorities. 

"It's not the coastal authority's case. The police or insurance company must find out," Norwegian Coastal Administration regional director Harald Andreassen told NRK.