Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by The Salvage Association (FUS 25)



  This Association was founded in 1856 by London marine underwriters to provide technical support to the London marine insurance market. It continues to provide this support to marine underwriters at Lloyd's and the International Underwriting Association of London through its marine surveyors working from branch offices in the major shiprepair centres of the world. These offices are manned by over seventy very experienced marine engineers and master mariners, the majority of whom are British and trained in British shipyards and the British merchant fleet. The Association's surveyors are known to be held in very high regard worldwide.

  The Association surveys a large proportion of the world's maritime casualties for hull and machinery underwriters. The relevance of the Association's submission to the Sub-Committee's Inquiry is that the Association:

    —  Assists the London marine insurance market which is the largest in the world to generate a valuable contribution to Britain's invisible earnings.

    —  Observes at first hand the very varied standards of ships, their operation and their crews around the world. (The Association's annual report on Worldwide Operations which is widely circulated outlines some of the problems the Association sees.)


  The case for a strong UK merchant fleet to earn revenues for this country and to meet strategic needs is one on which other organisations are better placed to comment. However, the Association does identify a strong merchant fleet as a necessity to assist in providing a strong maritime infrastructure and in maintaining the considerable maritime services industry which contributes to the British economy.

    —  Britain is an island nation dependent on shipping for its trade. It has an extensive seaboard to preserve and to protect environmentally. The management and administration of the extensive maritime infrastructure by both government and commerce relies heavily on maritime based skills acquired in the main from service in the merchant navy. The requirement for such skills will undoubtedly continue and, it is suggested, may grow as the nation demands ever safer and more environmentally conscious operations.

    —  The UK and particularly the City of London provides maritime services to the international shipping community. These contribute significantly to the British economy. These services place considerable reliance on maritime skills largely acquired from service in the British merchant fleet. The Salvage Association, in supporting the London marine insurance market, assists in contributing to the economy and relies heavily on maritime skills acquired in the British merchant fleet.

    —  The Salvage Association's experience is that the skill base of many seafarers employed around the world does not match the high standard achieved in the British merchant fleet and those of other traditional maritime nations. To rely on other nations to provide essential skills to Britain would, we submit, be unsatisfactory.

    —  The Salvage Association has, over recent years, seen the pool of suitably qualified engineers and master mariners from whom it can recruit becoming ever smaller and it is aware that the current number of recruits to the industry is far fewer than the number required to meet demand. We believe the Association's experience is similar to that of other organisations and that the situation is likely to deteriorate further. This will ultimately be to the detriment of Britain's maritime infrastructure and the maritime services industry.

    —  How can the training and employment of UK seafarers be promoted? Shipping has in recent years suffered a poor press around the world. It is usually publicised when accidents occur. Little attention has been given to the essential and significant contribution that shipping makes to British and to world trade. We believe that this has been one of many factors in the low level of recruitment to the industry.

  These submissions do not raise any new issues but seek to demonstrate that the experience on the ground of this Association supports the points made by others in recent years. In particular, we believe there is an imminent skills crisis which, unless addressed, could have a significant impact on the nation.

David Davies


27 November 1998

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