The Argentine Navy flagship ARA Libertad set sail for Mar del Plata on Wednesday four days after a UN court ordered its release from the Tema port in Accra, Ghana, following a 77 day embargo (since 2 October) due to a claim by vulture fund NML Capital.
A group of 98 Argentine sailors arrived earlier in the day in Ghana to complete the crew of 44 who remained under the orders of the captain and will oversee the training frigate’s return. In the midst of the conflict 281 sailors returned to Buenos Aires.
A spokesman of the Ghanaian port authority confirmed that the ARA Libertad was refuelled prior to its voyage. The navy vessel is expected to arrive in Mar del Plata on January 9th, President Cristina Fernández announced on Tuesday. A great reception is planned for the arrival.
On Saturday, the International Court of the Law of the Sea ordered Ghana to release Libertad, which was seized by orders of a court that accepted the claims of hedge fund NML Capital.
The twenty Justices from the Court of the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, including a former Ghana Judge, voted unanimously that war ships are immune to impounds based on the Law of the Sea and the Vienna convention.
A Ghanaian delegation including military personnel was at the port to see the frigate off. Tema Port Authority Lawrence Atumbine said that earlier on Wednesday the country’s Supreme Court had signed a resolution which invalidated the commercial court that supported the injunction.
“Now the frigate Libertad has become the symbol of sovereignty and national dignity against those who want to bully or run over Argentina”, said President Cristina Fernandez.
NML and other investment funds did not accept the restructuring of Argentine defaulted bonds in 2005 or 2010 and are demanding full payment of capital and interest. These funds or ‘vulture funds’ as Argentines call them are part of the 7% that did not accept Argentine restructuring terms, while 93% did accept the new bonds.
In the case of ARA Libertad the funds were demanding payment equivalent to 370 million dollars, capital plus interests.