Looking to establish strategic footholds around the globe and reinvesting its profits in cutting edge equipment and education Resolve Marine Group has achieved remarkable results that protect the environment and meet the requirements of the authorities in salvage and emergency.
In the interview that follows Mr. Dimos Iliopoulos, Naval Architect & Marine Engineer, MSc Representative for Greece, Cyprus & Turkey Resolve Salvage & Fire (Europe), LTD., describes the market challenges of salvage and
towage such as the trend of consolidation and the development of technology and refers to Resolve’s strategy in maintaining its leading position in global salvage.
Describe the greatest cornerstones of Resolve Marine.
Resolve Marine was founded in 1980 by Joe Farrell, Jr. operating a single tug and providing efficient salvage services to coastal freighters and small vessels in the Caribbean.
When OPA-90 and the U.S. Coast Guard Salvage and Marine Firefighting (SMFF) regulations came into effect in the 1990s, Resolve positioned itself to offer services under the regulations, establishing a firefighting specialty and training facility as well as strategically located salvage equipment depots. Resolve is now one of the leading providers, named in thousands of mandatory U.S. OPA-90 Vessel Response Plans.
Building on its U.S. experience, the business expanded and offered marine salvage and emergency response services internationally as well as in the U.S. Resolve maintained a policy of reinvesting earnings in additional assets and was able to build a substantial fleet of tugs, cranes, sheer-legs, barges and heavy lift gear. We established our engineering group and opened offices and response bases in Europe, Africa, India, Singapore and China.
In the past decade, Resolve was chosen by governments, ship-owners and their insurers and major energy groups to attend to damaged warships and submarines, bulk carriers, tankers and gas carriers, cruise ships and containerships including wrecks in hostile and inaccessible locations from Sri Lanka to Namibia and from Chile to New Zealand.
Do you believe that consolidation will be continued in the sector of salvage and towage as we have seen in Greece and worldwide with the creation of consortiums and joint ventures?
It is actually verified that within the last years the number of the various emergencies and accidents are gradually decreasing, despite the fact that the number and the sizes of all types of merchant vessels is increasing also gradually.
The main reasons for these safer conditions (onboard merchant vessels) are analyzed under the below paragraph A, and although there are other / different reasons as in paragraph B, which actually contribute to more unsafe situations.
Under these circumstances the whole “compensated situation” is the global decrease of accidents and emergencies for all types and sizes of merchant vessels (having also the mean average age to be also decreasing):
Therefore it is quite evident that the sector of salvage and towage operations shall proceed continuously to the respective consolidations and mergings, with the apparent reasons to decrease the operational expenses and whatever related economic damages.
A) The main reasons for less accidents and oil pollution incidents can be summarized to the following topics:
A.1) Extensive application of series of management systems for safety, security, quality, environmental protection, onboard working environment, power saving, power monitoring, etc in combination with the extended training of crew ratings and Officers.
A.2) Proper monitoring of vessel’s routing (through AIS, or through satellite communication systems) with the objectives to monitor the vessel’s overall performance.
A.3) As a further result, series of significant and/or critical decisions finally are to be taken in the “Office” by very experienced engineers and managers (of the respective vessel’s Operators).
B) However, there are additional factors which shall impair negatively the safety onboard all the merchant vessels, which could be summarized to the following topics:
B.1) A significant and inherent problem, it is actually the human nature: based on the analysis of long series of accidents, it is defined finally that, in most of the accidents (categories), the human factor / nature is the “root cause” for more than the 80% of the occurred accidents and emergency situations.
B.2) The numerous nationalities of the crew members and the lack of the proper and efficient communication among them.
B.3) The lack of effective and consistent training of the crew members (in their countries of origin), especially for those coming from east / south Asia and from the countries of the ex-eastern bloc.
B.4) The extensive use of long series of onboard automations: actually they give an initial high safety margin, however the situation is very problematic whenever all these automations shall be out of order.
In such cases, the manual operation of the machinery and equipment is very problematic and also the onboard crew are not so trained for imminent troubleshooting and extensive engineering.
B.5) The big numbers of applicable rules and regulations, their numerous amendments and revisions: They have finally resulted (in many cases) to their superficial application and in such cases the whole application is simply limited to fill-in series of standard forms and checklists (paperwork only and nothing else).
B.6) Lack of adequate resting periods for the crew onboard:
Given that the merchant vessels are operated up to their maximum performance and due to lack of adequate resting periods, finally in many cases the crew is used just to move / operate the vessel from a port “A” to a port “B”, i.e. by disregar ding also the prompt and planned maintenance (which, practically speaking, is executed – in a rather expensive way – through riding teams and makers’ experts, but in most cases such maintenance is on “fire-fighting basis”).
Do you believe that the development of technology with the introduction of more autonomous/automated navigational systems will eliminate the role of the salvage & towage companies?
It is evident that you refer to the extension of any technological innovations and application onboard all merchant vessels, but also to the new trend for the design and construction of “autonomous” vessels:
Certainly this is a real and latest trend, which cannot be inversed: some of these topics are also mentioned under the above paragraphs A.1, A.2 and A.3, however the various adverse parameters and conditions as mentioned in above paragraph B cannot be down-rated or disregarded.
Moreover, it should be stressed out that the sea environment could be very adverse and tough even for the normal / standard marine operations and to my opinion the “autonomous” vessels must be significantly improved: this shall take some decades, up to the forthcoming replacement of standard types of merchant vessels.
Therefore, and although the incorporation of automation and other technological innovations is a trend (which cannot be diversified or overridden) the actual roles of the salvage and towage companies are anticipated not to be eliminated and / or decreased in the near future.
Describe the international activities of your group (participation in international joint ventures & organizations and provision of OPA’90s services).
Resolve’s commitment to regulatory compliance is unmatched in the industry as highlighted by its investment in OPA-90 Salvage & Marine Firefighting (SMFF), China SPRO and Alaska APC services.
While other SMFF providers have entered and exited the market or formed JVs, RESOLVE is proud to be the only provider that has “stayed the course”, by maintaining USCG certification since the inception of the OPA-90 regulations. OPA-90 coverage lies at the core of Resolve’s business and has provided the foundation for our international growth.
Resolve’s SMFF coverage is based on resources from a network of salvage locations including our own facilities to network contractors’ facilities in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our salvage professionals, including salvage masters, engineers and dive teams are on-call around the clock to promptly initiate casualty assessment and salvage planning.
In 2012, Resolve expanded its compliance services and established a JV in Shanghai to provide China SPRO services to its clients. Through its base in Shanghai, Resolve leads a consortium of SPRO’s covering approximately 80% of the ports in China via a single SPRO contract. Most importantly, our oil spill response capabilities are widely recognized as the most comprehensive in China. We have liaised closely with the IG of P&I Clubs and ITOPF in drafting our contract to ensure it complies with their guidelines.
Most recently, Resolve formed a JV with National Response Corporation (NRC) to provide mandatory coveraage for vessels trading via western Alaska COTP zones and requiring Alaska Alternate Planning Criteria (APC) coverage. Resolve’s response base in Dutch Harbour, Alaska provides a strategic base to house a suite of oil spill and salvage resources including the only privately funded Emergency Towing Vessel in the U.S., the RESOLVE PIONEER.
What are the operating advantages of your fleet and describe the range of your company’s services.
Emergency Response, Marine Salvage and Wreck Removal are Resolve’s core businesses. We have a track record of successful operations around the world. We work in partnership with our clients and are directly employed and experienced salvage masters, naval architects, engineers and project managers are always available, standing by for immediate deployment to wherever they are needed. We have our own floating assets including tugs and floating cranes. We take pride in our innovative, creative and collaborative approach achieving results that protect the environment and meet the requirements of the authorities. We have a track record of success in this field.
Resolve has its own powerful tugs, sheer-legs and heavy lift gear. We conduct deep sea tows and provide offshore services including major installation and de-commissioning works. Our divers carry out underwater surveys and emergency repairs. All of our services are supported by the Resolve Engineering Group and our Maritime Academy which specialises in firefighting training as well watch keeping and bridge management using state of the art simulators.
As highlighted above, Resolve provides its clients with solutions in difficult regulatory environments as evidenced by its investment in OPA-90 SMFF, China SPRO and Alaska APC services.
Describe the recent salvage & towage/rescue cases that your company has successfully delivered in 2017.
Responding to this question I refer to the following:
5.1) CASE STUDY: FIREFIGHTING – BULK CARRIER
Resolve’s had a busy year in 2017 having responded to fire cases in the Atlantic to grounded vessels in Sweden, Madagascar, Chile and the Azores to platform removals off Mumbai and collisions in the U.S. Most notably perhaps is the fire case in the Atlantic off of Africa.
A bulk carrier was transiting off from Las Palmas, Spain when the Ammonium Nitrate (fertilizer) cargo began decomposing and heating up in cargo hold #4 with the heat migrating into cargo hold #3 and #5.
The vessel crew was evacuated and the vessel managers reached out to RESOLVE for assistance.
Resolve was contracted under a LOF contract and a salvage and marine firefighting crew was immediately dispatched to perform the salvage / firefighting services.
The fire was extinguished and then towed to a safe port of refuge where the cargo was discharged and she was redelivered to her Owners.
What are your company’s future plans and how do you face the new challenges in the salvage & towage sector
Resolve will continue to focus on its core businesses of marine salvage, regulatory compliance services and wreck removal.
The company is always looking to establish strategic footholds around the globe to better serve our primary client base of ship owners, insurance companies and governments.
Resolve will continue to reinvest profits in people and assets, cutting edge equipment and education further supporting our desire to be