As a former British Colony Singapore’s Laws are based on English Common Law, which is why it has become a much used place for Maritime Arbitration. Many contracts state London or Singapore as the place of arbitration:
PS> I have been Expert Witness in a couple of Arbitration cases in Singapore and reviewed statements in one case that was withdrawn by one of the parties before it came to arbitration due to clarifications I asked for.
I have not read every word in the Opinion, or the enquiry report from Singapore, but from what I have read I still find it amazing that the owner/manager of the Alnic should need to seek protection from claims and liability for this collision.
That they did not understand what was happening when the DDG suddenly turned and headed across their bow.
That is understandable, both from a human and legal aspect.
Why were they on Autopilot when the SMS said it should not be used in Singapore Strait?
Depends on when it is deemed that you are “in Singapore Strait”.
The collision happened before the VTS zone started, when entering from the East.
It took some time after the collision before the engine was stopped and the autopilot switched off.
It is understandable that people were in shock when something as shocking and unexpected as this happen.
Besides, it is sometime advisable to maintain a bit of ahead power on not to separate the two ships until extent of damages, risk of flooding and capsizing has been determined. (That take coordination between the two ships, though)
A previous case of collision in Singapore Strait demonstrate just such action:
In this case the two ships where kept together, with the larger vessel “plugging the hole” in the side of the smaller until salvors arrived to assess the damages and risk by separating the two.
The case before the court in NY was not an arbitration case but an attempt by the Owner of the Alnic to protect himself from arbitrary claim, which did not come out as expected
PS> There may be a reason why New York is not a preferred place of arbitration anymore. (Other than by US companies)