When will the towage become salvage?

AbdelNasser AlSheikhYousef
AbdelNasser AlSheikhYousef

A criterion for  whether a towing vessel has become a salving vessel is “ have there been supervening  circumstances which would justifying her in abandoning her contract?”—not the tow, but abandoning the contract to tow. It must be ascertained as to whether the services that were to be rendered eventually by the tug such as to have been beyond the reasonable contemplation of the parties when they originally negotiated the towage contract. It is beyond doubt that towage and salvage services cannot be performed concurrently. One must finish before the other starts. Definite guidelines have been established in the courts(1928 The Homewood case) to determine where the towage stops and salvage starts. For the tug owner to consider rightly that he had taken on the role of salvor it is essential that: a)the services he performed were of such an extraordinary nature that they could not have been with in the reasonable contemplation of the parties to the original towage contract b)the services in fact  performed and the risks in fact would not have been reasonably remunerated if the contractual remuneration only was paid. In short , mere difficulty in the performance of the towage does not automatically ‘convert’ the towage into salvage.

The burden of proof is heavy and lies upon the tug owner claiming the salvage reward. He must show that the nature of the service changed from towage to salvage through no fault or want of skill on his part and simply and solely by accident or fortuitous circumstances over which he had no control.