The tuna-fisher Trevignon responded to a call for help from the Costa Allegra when a fire destroyed the cruise ship's generators and disabled her engines. Although tiny in size compared with the Allegra, the Trevignon has powerful engines designed to haul heavy seine nets through the water.
The fishing boat got a line aboard the stricken liner and towed her at 6 knots for three days to Mahé, capital of the Seychelle Islands. Along the way, the Frenchmen refused to hand their prize over to two more powerful tugs from Mahé, which could have towed the liner faster and got her passengers ashore about a day earlier. Without electrical power, the passengers had no working toilets, no air conditioning, and no hot food.
Now, with the Allegra safely berthed in port, the Trevignon's crew can look forward to a salvage award that could mean they'll never have to catch another tuna in their lives.
According to Captain D. Peter Boucher, a retired master mariner living in Coral Gables, Florida, once that towline was passed and accepted, the standard maritime salvage rights were established for the FV Trevignon. Even though the fishing boat is French and the liner is Italian, English Law will apply, Capt. Boucher maintains.
Lloyds' Open Form (LOF) is a salvage agreement almost universally accepted by seafarers. "It is a "No Cure No Pay" agreement, which was put in place in the 19th century by Lloyds' Insurance of London, United Kingdom," says Boucher. "No amount of money is quoted in LOF, which is about a page-and-a-half long, and quite basic. Once the salvage is successful (that is, "cured") then an arbitrator sits down and assesses the entire operation to come up with an award amount for the "cure," based on the value of the ship, its cargo and/or passengers, risks involved, dangers involved, and the overall degree of difficulty.
"Usually the arbitrator is a Queen's Counsel of the English Admiralty Bar who follows English Civil Law on Salvage and decides on the award to the tower vessel. Clearly in the current case of towing the MS Costa Allegra, a passenger vessel, this award could be considerable."
It can take many months to decide such matters, of course, but if the crew of the Trevignon are like many other sailors I know, I bet they're swilling champagne and living the high life in Mahé right now and celebrating the biggest catch of their lives.
(The Costa Allegra, incidentally, belongs to the same company as the cruise liner Costa Concordia, which capsized recently after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.)
Today's ThoughtThis is our special duty, that if anyone specially needs our help, we should give him such help to the utmost of our power.
— Cicero, De Officiis
TailpieceFruit fly to horse fly: "Uh, don't look now, my friend, but your human is undone."
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