Basic Questions Concerning the Viability of a Shipwreck Salvage Project

Salvage or not salvage ? That is the question...! From a commercial point of view

by Pascal Kainic


How to determine whether a wreck is a candidate for salvage or not ?

Many operators, divers and financiers are desperately seeking for the proper answer... Let's ask ourselves a few questions before throwing away a lot of money for nothing at the end.

You have here a non-exhaustive list of 41 questions in bulk to make everybody more confident in the issue of a costly shipwreck salvage project.

Ask yourself if those criteria match with your actual or future ventures....!!


  1. How many years since the reported sinking ?

  2. What year did the vessel sank ?

  3. What are the currents and their strenght in the area ?

  4. What likely effects have the currents on the vessel ?

  5. What is the rate of the sediment build up in the area ?

  6. What is the likely position of the vessel now on the ocean floor (totally submerged or other) ?

  7. Is the area a stormy place ?

  8. If yes, how many days the wreck can be worked on ?

  9. What is the vessel made of  (all various parts) ?

  10. How much is left of the different parts of the vessel ?

  11. Is the location a known local fishing place ?

  12. Is the wreck in a shipping channel ?

  13. In what depth of water the wreck is lying ?

  14. How far from the nearest land is the wreck located ?

  15. Did the vessel break up ?

  16. If yes, where is the location of all the parts ?

  17. How did the vessel sink ?

  18. Are the contents of the vessel in the immediate sinking area or spread over a large distance ?

  19. What information is available on the vessel and her sinking ?

  20. Why hasn't the vessel been salvaged before ?

  21. Has there been any previous salvage attempt on this wreck ?

  22. What is the exact nature of the lost cargo ?

  23. Will there be any insurance claim on the salvaged cargo ?

  24. Can anyone else claim the wreck and (or) the cargo ?

  25. Is the wreck of historical significance ?

  26. What is the estimate value of the lost cargo ?

  27. Can film and any other media means be used on the location ?

  28. What precise equipment is needed to salvage the wreck ?

  29. What is the time needed to do the whole salvage ?

  30. What is the approximate cost and time needed to implement the archive research stage ?

  31. What is the approximate cost and time needed to implement the Search stage ?

  32. What is the approximate cost and time needed to implement the Recovery stage ?

  33. How strong is the legal title to the wreck ?

  34. What area is needed to be searched ?

  35. Is the location of the wreck well known ?

  36. Can local fishermen free dive to the wreck ?

  37. Can a cash flow be created early in the project ?

  38. Is there evidence of the wreck in the nearest villages ?

  39. What is the exact position of the wreck in lat. and long. ?

  40. Have you got all the legal authorizations to do this project ?!!

  41. Are we sure we want to spend our time and all our money in such a risky venture ?

More confident now and ready to start your project ?

GOOD LUCK in your quest...!

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