Managing Director interviewed for an article in Maritime Executive
Lockdowns aren’t the only regulatory hurdle affecting salvage this year. The U.S. Treasury Department has increased its use of sanctions targeting shipping, particularly in pursuit of foreign policy objectives in Iran and Venezuela. In the event of a casualty involving a sanctioned vessel, any salvor has to contemplate whether providing aid could lead to U.S. penalties – and whether it would be possible to accept payment from a sanctioned shipowner. It’s happened before: U.S. sanctions were an obstacle after the wreck of the Alpine Eternity, a product tanker which allided with an Iranian offshore platform in 2015. Captain Seva was there for the job and remembers the bureaucratic challenge: “The P&I club had to get permission from the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, and we had to go through their exemption mechanism in order to manage the casualty.” Now he’s concerned about a much more serious problem. Last year, the Iranian tanker Happiness 1 suffered flooding in her engine room and lost propulsion in the Red Sea. She was carrying one mil- lion barrels of oil, and if the situation had deteriorated, a serious spill could have resulted. “No commercial salvor could do anything about it because of the sanctions on Iranian shipping,” Seva said. The vessel was eventually towed into port by Saudi responders, but the outcome could have been different. In January 2018, the Ira- nian tanker Sanchi burned and sank with all hands off China. If the same incident occurred today, any salvor who assisted her would run the risk of sanctions. “There must be some form of agreement under which pro- fessional salvors are allowed to help a sanctioned vessel quickly because our job is to save lives and protect the environment,” Seva observes. “There must be a line drawn between politics and emer- gency response.