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From Ship to Scrap: When does Admiralty Jurisdiction end?

Does Admiralty jurisdiction extend to a vessel that has been beached? In The Kelsie [2024], the charterers were looking to arrest the vessel in India for their claim amounting to $780k. She had been beached with her navigational equipment destroyed by the time the owners were served with a court order. Interestingly, the charterers had actually been successful to arrest her in another country previously, but she had breached the arrest warrant and sailed out with her AIS off.

When her AIS was switched back on, she was in the Malacca straits, heading for a scrap yard in India. During this time she changed hands several times until a scrap dealer finally bought her. The charterer had approached a court in India to arrest her and order a judicial sale of the vessel so as to settle their claim. Admiralty suit was instituted on 2nd May. Prior to that, requisite permissions had been taken from the authorities to scrap the vessel and customs duty had also been paid by her new owners. They took delivery of the vessel on 3rd May, and the vessel was beached on 4th May at 0001. Her new owners were served with a court’s order some 11 hours later. They argued that she was no longer a ‘vessel’ and therefore the court cannot exercise its Admiralty jurisdiction.


The Court agreed with the owners. Their reasoning hinged on the moment the ship lost its maritime function

  • Once the Authorities have undertaken and completed all the procedural formalities of beaching of the vessel, legally, the owners became disentitled to navigate the vessel, and therefore, from that moment the vessel ceased to be a ship

  • In any case, after a vessel is beached, i.e. she is on a land mass, the court cannot exercise Admiralty jurisdiction.

  • Moreover, as some of the navigational equipment had already been destroyed, she no longer remained a ship or vessel




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