The Royal Australian Navy forced a key supply vessel for Chevron's Gorgon liquefied natural gas project to be impounded because of wrangling over the bill for damage to a Collins Class submarine.
While Combi Lift, owner of the Combi Dock III cargo vessel, is believed to concede it was to blame for colliding with the HMAS Sheean at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson in July, the Danish shipping company is understood to have been caught by surprise when the navy applied to the court to have Combi Dock III "arrested".
The Federal Court agreed and it was arrested - industry jargon for withdrawing it from service while it remained moored at AMC.
The ship's arrest ended late on Friday when the court released the Combi Dock III after Combi Lift and its insurer, AIG, provided a letter of undertaking to cover a damage bill, costs and interest of up to $10 million.
The figure is above the initial damages claim of $1.37 million lodged by the Commonwealth of Australia, on behalf of the navy, with the Federal Court in Perth on September 6.
The Combi Dock III was supposed to be loaded with equipment ahead of its final voyage from AMC, Chevron's main Gorgon supply base, to Barrow Island.
That voyage had to be delayed - the ship is not expected to sail until today - though Chevron said the arrest "has had no impact on Gorgon's project schedule". Once unloaded on the island, the ship will sail on to Singapore and work on new assignments.
The navy and Combi Lifts, which has had two of its semi-submersible heavy cargo ships working on the AMC to Barrow Island route for several years, would not comment.
_WestBusiness _has obtained Federal Court documents detailing the action.
The cause was an incident on July 16 when the Combi Dock III snapped its moorings at AMC Berth 4 during stormy weather and careered into HMAS Sheean, which was moored at the opposite Berth 2.
Damage to Combi Dock III was minor.
The Sheehan is thought to have damaged its steering and propeller operations.