Get Ready for the New OPA 90


For Ship Owners, Choosing The Right Salvage Engineer Will Be Key Ship owners take notice. The USCG has updated OPA 90*, with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that outlines the expansion of the salvage and firefighting response requirements of the existing OPA 90 rule (see Federal Register issue May 10, 2002). The rule, which is scheduled to go into force soon, lies on the basis of improved salvage and response plans.

Ship owners/operators will, ultimately, need to prove, within their Vessel Response Plans (VRP), that the salvage and firefighting response contractors they have chosen can handle their worst-case marine crisis scenario within the response time limits listed in the new rule. A salvor just can't be listed: a contract must be signed and they have to be able to meet the myriad of different response times listed in the new rule ) particularly in t h e areas of assess- ment of damage and developing sal- plans. Apart f r om having heavy equipment such as tugs, cranes, etc.

available, the Salvor needs to be able t o respond with reliable damage assessment info, a salvage engineering analysis and a salvage plan submitted to the USCG within hours. In order for the Salvor to do that, it is therefore necessry to have a real salvage engineer with access to a pre-built salvage engineering computer model of the vessel.

According to the new rule, the Salvor will be in direct communication with the Qualified Individual (QI) from the get go. This is the best order of things because the earliest involvement by the Salvor may prevent a small incident from turning into a major crisis. For example, a grounding of an oil tanker with no damage could turn into a major oil spill if the Salvor is not informed early on in the process. History has proven that the small incident is cheaper to fix than the major oil spill — or the sinking. JMS Naval Architects & Salvage Engineers, located in Groton, Conn, provides a 24/7 emergency salvage engineering service called ERnet (Emergency Response network) to a number of oil transportation companies such as Reinauer Transportation, Maritrans and others along the East Coast. Over the past 15 years JMS has responded to numerous small to medium sized marine incidents that were prevented from becoming major salvage crisis with the use of solid salvage engineering know-how. So much of preventative salvage response is just knowing what type of situation your vessel is in; how hard aground is she, is she overstressed in certain areas, what compartments are flooded, etc. The faster you know these things the faster and better you can stabilize the crisis and work on a plan. This is where a pre-built salvage engineering computer model (also a requirement of OPA 90) of your vessel becomes indispensable. JMS has built, and maintains, HECSALV computer models of each of its ERnet member's vessels. These ERnet member companies such as Reinauer and Maritrans are already covered under the new OPA 90 response time rules. Many of these same members also have CargoMax loading instruments on-board that 'speak' to the HECSALV models with up-to-date cargo and liquid loading particulars. This gives the salvage engineer the last known condition of the vessel and the all-important remaining trim, stability and strength it had before it got in trouble. In response, the USCG has already implemented the HECSALV program exclusively — allowing the determination of consensus on salvage plans to be a lot easier. The quicker the salvage plan is approved, the quicker the lightering can begin, or the next opportune tide-cycle won't be missed, or your good weather window, etc. For additional information on JMS' emergency salvage engineering response, please contact Rick Fernandes at: * Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Also see CFR 33 155 parts 240, 245

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