Award 1233 (second degree) – Salvage agreement between a pilot station and a pleasure yacht – Agreement validity (yes) – Ship in danger (yes) – Settlement of a reward.
The Master of a large pleasure yacht sends a distress signal MAYDAY after the flooding by sea water inside the garage space, near the aft platform, and part of the engine room, causing the ship to list. The rudder being out of order, he tries to reach the nearest port steering with the two engines. Warned by the Regional Monitoring and Rescue Centre, the pilot station intervenes with two pilots and a tug for conducting the yacht into the port, then gets a salvage agreement to be signed by the Master giving competence to CAMP in order to determine a reward and obtains from insurers a letter of undertaking.
The parties were opposed, on the one hand on the validity of the salvage agreement as the owner considered the pilots’ intervention had been performed as part of the public service mission to be ensured by the pilots within their pilotage area, on the other hand on the real danger situation in which was the yacht when the pilots came.
The arbitral Tribunal judged the pilots’ intervention had exceeded the framework of articles L.5341-1 and following of “Code des transports” in carrying out a towage until the port entrance, therefore the pilotage rules under French law did not apply in this case. On the real peril situation, the tribunal considered the danger which threatened the ship, although not as imminent as the pilots asserted it, was real in view of the risk of increase of sea water intake involving the worsening of the ship buoyancy. Consequently the salvage operation deserved a reward which was fixed at about 3 % of the salved value.