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What is a 'sister ship' for purposes of ship arrest?

Various jurisdictions allow arrest of a sister ship to enforce a maritime claim. But proving that the vessel is a sister ship can prove tricky – as the maritime claimant found out in The Altus Exertus [2020].

MEDS, the bareboat charterer of Altus Uber owed Rs.77 lakhs to the supplier of stores, provisions and other equipment. Invoices were not settled and the supplier proceeded to arrest her sister ship, Altus Exertus in India on the premise that MEDS was controlling both vsls either as a bareboat charterer or owner. The only source of this information was the website of MEDS. As per MEDS the arrest was not permissible under Indian Adm. Act 2017 as the bareboat charterparty was terminated much before the order of arrest was given, and in any case it was not the owner. Lower court had decided against suppliers.

As per Gujrat High Court the supplier could not succeed in perpetuating the security deposit on screen shots only, especially when MEDS had produced conclusive proof of registration and ownership and mortgage etc. Moreover the bareboat C/P was terminated nearly two weeks before the arrest was ordered. The argument that early termination of charter by MEDS was wrongful and thus MEDS continued being the charterer was a non-starter for various reasons.

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