The word “salvage” has always evoked visions of heroism, danger, and sudden riches to men who follow the sea. Unfortunately, while some merchant sailors and those of foreign navies have seen this vision turn into spendable reality, for many decades the U. S. Government followed a policy that precluded members of the U. S. Navy from claiming such award. It was considered their duty, and rightly so, to render aid and assistance to any vessel in danger on the high seas with no thought of recompense.
There eventually comes the time, however, when extenuating circumstances dictate that the rule be abrogated. Such was the case when, in 1947, some 400 officers and men of the U. S. Navy learned they had been awarded approximately $300,000 in salvage! In addition to the unusual aspect of the Navy being awarded salvage, the admiralty jurist who heard the case commented . . . “there was unfolded one of the great dramas of American peacetime seamanship . . . an Odyssey of courageous, skillful, and successful salvors.”