When a ship is arrested...
What does it mean when a ship is arrested?
Mr Eugene Cheng, 29, an associate specialising in shipping litigation at Gurbani and Co LLC, said: "Claimants must first have a claim against the shipowner. They then file an application for a warrant of arrest in court.
"When a ship is arrested, it means that it is unable to leave Singapore waters.
"The arrest does not apply to the crew members, who may be repatriated by the arresting party."
Why are ships arrested?
Though there are varying reasons, Mr Cheng said it is usually because of marine related claims and the purpose of arresting a ship is to force the shipowner to appear in court and settle the claim.
Nanyang Technological University Associate Professor Lam Siu Lee said: "Another reason is that Singapore has port state control, and has the right to inspect and arrest foreign ships in Singapore waters."
How many other arrested ships are on Singapore shores?
The Hanjin Rome is not the only arrested vessel in Singapore waters.
As of yesterday, there are seven others, the longest being the Ocean Mare, which has been unable to leave Singapore waters since April.
The map above shows their positions, according to marinetraffic.com
Mr Cheng said it is not uncommon for ships to be arrested in Singapore waters because our admiralty laws grant claimants the right to do so.
Mr S Mohan, Managing Director of Resource Law LLC, said: "Given the sheer number of vessels that call at Singapore coupled with its efficient legal system, it is common for ships to be arrested in Singapore."
What happens to arrested ships?
Mr Cheng said it is unlikely that ships would be arrested for more than a year.
He said: "The arresting party would usually apply for a sale of the ship to prevent it from becoming a wasting asset because expenses such as port dues and crew wages will reduce the value of the ship."
What happens to the crew onboard an arrested ship?
According to the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore, once a ship is arrested, anything that enters or leaves the ship has to be approved by the Supreme Court.
This includes the change of crew. Crew members would have to apply for permission from the Sheriff of the Supreme Court to be repatriated.
In an arrested ship, at least half the number of officers, engineers and crew (or watchmen/security guards) must be onboard at all times to meet the minimum manning requirement.
A mid-sized cargo vessel like the Hanjin Rome requires a skeleton staff of about 12 to 15 operational employees - half its original crew size - given its current circumstance.
Mr Cheng said: "The humanitarian thing is to repatriate and replace the old crew or change the crew on board the ship when it was arrested.
"This is because the crew did not sign up to stay in Singapore for an unknown period of time."