Law of Wreck, The

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Introduction to wreck casualties

1.1 Introduction

1.1.1 Wreck and maritime law

Shipwrecks have long been the subject of romantic tales (in fact and fiction), conjuring up images of sailors confronting the natural elements of wind and sea where, despite the heroic efforts of crew and salvors, the ship ultimately succumbs to those forces.1 While those forces have not really changed from antiquity, the ability to resist them has developed along with the practices of shipbuilding and navigation. The physical risks from any casualty involving a ship remain the same, namely the loss of the ship and its cargo and, more importantly, possible loss of life and personal injury. In the last 50 years, the risks to the environment have become more apparent, mainly as a result of the volume and variety of cargoes carried. As will be seen, the environmental factor now plays an increasing role in wreck removal.

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