In general, local towage contracts such as for vessels aground in the River Plate, or similar, are drawn up on a basis of hourly rates (straight/overtime) plus steaming time to/from station and the site where the vessel requesting service is located. Notwithstanding the foregoing it may be possible to arrange a contract on a “no cure, no pay” basis. Sufficient notice must be allowed for in connection with victualling, stores, bunkers and, at times, extra crewmembers to be engaged.
Local firms are not prone to sharing their services with foreign tugs or with those outside their agreement pools. This aspect must be borne in mind when planning towage operations of disabled vessels and prior to drawing up contracts. However, in the case of important salvage jobs involving stranded or beached ships or wrecks, international salvage companies usually team up with local firms in order to be able to operate.
It is important to note that, even though appropriate clauses may have been inserted in a contract with respect of tug Owners not putting forward Salvage Claims, this does not exclude the possibility of tug masters and crewmembers initiating actions, at their own cost, to claim reward should their services had been substantially in excess of those commonly to be expected. In the past there have been legal rulings in favour of tug crews and the matter should be treated with great care.
Concerning salvage contracts, these are generally drawn up depending on the circumstances of the case and in line with traditional contracts and/or local custom. In case of disputes, it’s usual for local law to apply. Only divers duly registered with the Coastguard authority should be employed and salvage teams usually have their own appropriately trained underwater divers. Underwater photography/video services can also be contracted at some ports, providing the water is clear enough and there is sufficient under keel clearance.
Withdrawal of stranded, grounded, beached ships and/or wrecks must be carried out with consent from both Coastguard and Customs House. Should the aforementioned ships constitute a danger or obstruction towards navigation, they are required to be broken up, removed or refloated by their Owners within certain time limits. This aspect is duly envisaged by Navigation Law 20.094, 2nd Title, Chapter I, 2nd Section, Arts. 16/24, whilst for all other cases please refer to the same law, 3rd Title, Chapter III, 3rd Section, Arts. 387/398.
Actions originating as a consequence of founderings, groundings and refloatings prescribe within two years of the completion of operations.