What are wrecks?
Wrecks are the remains of a ship after it has been destroyed in combat. When a ship is destroyed, whether it is a player ship or an NPC ship, it leaves a wreck. The wreck consists of two components and the status of the wreck is reflected in the overview. The first part of the wreck is an amount of cargo in a container within the wreck. These items came from the cargo hold and fittings of the destroyed ship. When a wreck contains cargo it's icon is filled in. The second portion of the wreck is the smashed remains of the ship's structure. These two parts can be interacted with independently and in any order. When there is no cargo in the wreck, or the cargo has been removed, the icon for the wreck appears hollow.
The modules and items from the cargohold that are not destroyed in the ship's explosion, can be looted. In addition to this, raw materials can be extracted from the wreck by using salvaging. The materials salvaged can be sold on the market or used to create rigs.
Main article: Container and Wreck Ownership
A wreck and it's cargo are owned by the original owner of the ship. This has several implications when in high sec space. The first implication affects your ability to loot the wreck. If you are distant from the wreck or wrecks, and want to tractor beam them to your ship, you must be the owner of the loot or in fleet with the owner. Additionally, if you loot a wreck belonging to a player you just killed, that player's corporation may be able to fire upon you.
The Concord standard criminal flagging rules apply to cargo within the wreck. These are the same rules which apply to a can jettisoned from your ship. If you are the wreck owner, should someone other than you remove items from the wreck you will have rights to attack them.
These rules do not, however, apply to the structural wreck aside from the cargo. Anyone can salvage usable materials from wrecks, regardless of who destroyed the ship which caused the wreck to be created. As noted above this can be done even if cargo is present. Since the process of salvaging the wreck causes it to disappear, a special case is created here. The original wreck is gone and what remains is a can containing the cargo and still owned by the original owner. This new can will not be targeted by a tractor beam if the wreck was being pulled or held at the time of salvage and will have to be retargeted by the tractor beam in such a case.
Wrecks, like jet cans, persist for a pre-determined length of time, then disappear. This time is two hours, and this fact can have a big impact on the strategy of looting wrecks in missions.