Tojo Maru

Tojo Maru, a Japanese tanker was involved in a collision with Italian tanker Fina Italia and suffered extensive damage, including a substantial fissure to the hull.  Due to the extent of the damage a salvage agreement was made with Wijsmuller.

The fissure needed to be covered with a thirty foot wide plate.  The salvage operator planned to bolt the plate to the hull of the Tojo Maru using a Cox bolt gun.  The chief diver in the employ of the salvage operator negligently fired the bolt earlier than instructed in to a tank which had not been gas-freed.  The resultant explosion caused significant damage to the Tojo Maru.  The gun had been prepared and loaded on the Wijsmuller owned tug Jacob von Heemskerkck, the same vessel from which the chief diver descended before firing the bolt.  The bolt gun was fired under water and a distance away from the tug.  The fire was extinguished and the tanker made sufficiently seaworthy to be towed.

Within maritime law it is accepted that a person who recovers or aids recovery of another persons ship/cargo after “peril” or “loss” at sea is entitled to seek a recompense in line with the value of the property saved.  The right to salvage under common law is based upon policy and equitable principal.  The common law principal is based upon volunteering, this excludes a contractual nor legal obligation.

The case of the Tojo Maru examined the terms of the no cure no pay principal. It is possible to receive a reward for partial success. If it can be demonstrated that the persons actions mitigate the loss then the salvor may still claim a reward.