“Libertad” Frigate Crew Arrives in Argentina; Ship Impounded in Ghana

By Dialogo
October 26, 2012

A total of 280 sailors from the Argentine Navy training vessel Libertad, that was impounded in Ghana due to a lawsuit filed by a hedge fund, arrived in Buenos Aires’s Ezeiza International Airport on board a charter flight on October 25, reported AFP.

The Argentine Navy frigate crew, retained at a port near Accra since October 2, arrived on an Air France special flight at the airport, where the Sailors were received by their families with a warm round of applause.

Most of the Argentine crew arrived on the flight, together with their counterparts from Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela, the guests who participated in the training tour, a Navy spokesman told AFP.

While conducting its annual training tour, the ship was impounded by a Ghanaian court order issued by a judge that accepted a legal claim from a hedge fund on Argentina’s defaulted sovereign bonds, which had gone into default by about 1 billion dollars in 2001.

“The happiness of this reunion is mixed with sadness, because the ship is something that I feel is mine. This was my third trip. I didn’t want to leave the boat, but the commander assigned others to stay onboard,” Martín Tejera told AFP as he stepped off the plane and hugged his four children, the youngest being born two months ago when he was in open waters.

The remaining crew stayed on board the Libertad in order to guarantee the maintenance of the ship at the Port of Tema , consists of its captain and 44 crew members,.

The lawsuit that provoked the seizure was filed over 370 million dollars by the holding company NML Capital, headquartered in the Cayman Islands, after refusing to accept a debt restructuring with important cutbacks that Argentina offered between 2005 and 2010, for 93% of its debt in default.

This incident generated internal controversy in the Argentine government, which caused Admiral Carlos Alberto Paz, Chief of Navy Intelligence, to resign after the government penalized two officers.

The frigate’s training tour had scheduled several stops in Latin America, Europe, and Africa, while in 2011 it only docked in regional ports, to avoid seizure attempts by creditor hedge funds.