Read this headline about the Prestige case being tossed out as the judge did not feel she had jurisdiction, US court throws out Spain’s $1bn Prestige claim. Hearing about the Prestige again (and thinking about the prevaricating, bureaucratic bungling, responsibility dodging etc that went on during that disaster) it contrasted with the story I read the day before in Ships Monthly (THE magazine for the truly ship obsessed) on the salvage of the Napoli wherein the UK SOSREP Robin Middleton made the decision to refloat and then beach the vessel. I don’t have the info to judge whether these were the right decisions or not (though I suspect they were dead on) but the fact that they could be made in good time and executed shortly thereafter is a giant step in the right direction.
The Maritime Journal expressed the establishment of the position after the Braer and Sea Empress disasters this way, "the perceived need for a single representative to oversee, control
and if necessary intervene and exercise ‘ultimate command and control’, acting
in the over-riding interest of the UK in salvage operations within UK waters
involving vessels or offshore installations where there is significant risk of
pollution." Sounds pretty much like the Master of a ship, except ashore.
Australia has also implicated this type of position. If you think that Spain was the only country to fumble this type of decision look at this paper on the Maritime Law Association of Australia and
New Zealand web site. One does wonder if Spain had a SOSREP at the time of the Prestige would there be $1bn claims…