Argentine Sailors Return with Frigate Libertad

By Dialogo
December 20, 2012

A group of 98 sailors took a charter flight to Ghana on December 18, where they boarded the Frigate “Libertad” to return to Argentina by January 9, after the ship was seized in the African country for over two months.

The group joined Frigate Libertad’s crew, and embarked on December 19.

Minister of Defense Arturo Puricelli, explained that the vessel could sail with the 45 crew members that remained in the Tema port, including its captain, although he clarified that more men would join due to the effort that entails crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The team traveled to Ghana after the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ordered the African nation to free the Argentine Navy’s flagship frigate on December 15, which had been seized since October 2 in a port near Accra, after a judge accepted a hedge fund’s claim.

The ITLOS, based in Hamburg, Germany, declared unanimously that a warship is immune from seizure, and ordered the African country to liberate the frigate “immediately and without any conditions.”

On December 18, Ghanaian authorities released the ship, thus abiding by the ITLOS ruling.

The lawsuit against Argentina for about $370 million had been filed by NML Capital, based in the Cayman Islands, after rejecting the debt swap over the default for almost $100,000 that occurred in 2001, a debt restructuring that was supported by 93% of bond holders.

On its training trip, the frigate “Libertad” reached the port of Tema with 326 crewmembers, including nationals from other Latin American countries, but after the seizure, only 44 sailors were left onboard under the leadership of the captain.

The frigate “ARA Libertad,” a war training vessel, was inaugurated in 1956, and can circulate by sail or engine. According to its official specifications, it is 104 meters in length, 14.30 meters wide, and 6.60 meters deep.