Master and owner charged for illegal salvage of sunken vessel

On 26 July 2018, Dutch company Friendship Offshore BV was convicted for conducting an unlicensed salvaging operation on the SS Harrovian in 2016.

The SS Harrovian is a merchant vessel which was sunk on a voyage from New York to Le Havre by the German submarine U-69 in the English Channel in 1916. It is still of considerable heritage value, despite being at sea.

When Marine Management Organisation (MMO) officers inspected the vessel in 2016, they discovered circa £90,000 worth of copper and steel. The vessel's master admitted that he did not have the appropriate marine licence and had dimmed the vessel's Automatic Identification System  to avoid detection. The vessel was then detained to Falmouth for further inspection.

The defendants pleaded guilty to charges reflecting the three unlicensed salvaging operations they conducted. The vessel's master was fined £2,000, and Friendship Offshore BV was fined £6,000 and £44,930 costs.

The MMO also made an application for a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) which was agreed at £609,086, with an actual realisable amount assessed at £190,643 to be paid within three months.

An MMO spokesperson said: 

"This case is very important and shows that we will take action against those deliberately avoiding the required consents in order to make a profit. The SS Harrovian is an important heritage asset and this result sends out a clear message that vessels of this nature should not be exploited."

To find out more about Wreck and Salvage Law please see here

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