Saturday, January 25, 2014

Walarmists Get the Bill for Their Rescue

Federal Government to seek full cost recovery for Antarctic expedition rescue
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt yesterday said costs, estimated at about $2.4 million, would be sought from the insurer of the operators of the vessel.

The MV Akademik Shokalskiy, chartered by the University of NSW-associated Australasian Antarctic Expedition to retrace the steps of explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, became stuck in thick sea ice on Christmas Eve.

The 52 passengers were rescued by the Aurora Australis on January 2. Mr Hunt said the Commonwealth would seek compensation for the recovery effort. “We will be seeking full cost recovery through insurers for the up to $2.4 million costs incurred by the Australian government,” he said.

“We have a duty to protect life at sea and we do that willingly.

“However, what we see here is that there are some questions as to whether or not the ship was detained by the action of those on board within an area the captain had identified as potentially being subject to being frozen in.

“I think we have a duty on behalf of taxpayers to seek full cost recovery.”
By Federal Government, this article means the Australian Federal Government, not the U.S. government. I doubt the U.S. government would go after a scientific expedition that got into trouble, even if the did commit some acts of stupidity.  I believe that the U.S. does permit the Coasties to go after fools that they are forced to rescue after acts of gross negligence.

And the organizers of this expedition clearly did commit acts of stupidity, allowing "scientists"/tourists to go sight seeing while the Captain of the ship was calling for the return of all the passengers because of the ice.  Given that they only got "stuck" in the ice a few miles from relatively open water, that might have lost them enough time to make the difference.

Or maybe, this is just being done under the ordinary International agreements which recognize the Law of Salvage:
Historically, salvage is a right in law, when a person, acting as a volunteer (that is, without any pre-existing contractual or other legal duty so to act) preserves or contributes so to preserving at sea any vessel, cargo, freight, or other recognized subject of salvage from danger. This is the typical case of salvage and is distinct from Prize law, which is the rescuing of property from the enemy at a time of war, for which a reward is made by the Court of Admiralty sitting as a Prize Court.

The law seeks to do what is fair to both the property owners and the salvors. The right to salvage may not necessarily arise out of an actual contract but is a legal liability arising out of the fact that property has been recovered. The property owner who had benefit of the salvor's efforts must make remuneration, regardless of whether he had formed a contract or not. The assumption here is that when faced with the loss of his vessel and cargo, a reasonable prudent owner would have accepted salvage terms offered, even if time did not permit such negotiations.
Looks appropriate to me, but the bill would go the Russians who would, in turn, go to the walarmists.

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