Argentina’s dredgers union assured a safe passage for when the Navy’s flag ship ARA Libertad arrives to Mar del Plata next 9 January to a big reception party headed by President Cristina Fernandez. There were concerns that the depth of the access channel wouldn’t be enough.
“The access channel to Mar del Plata is 80 metres wide and 9 to 10 metres deep, I believe the frigate draught is six metres to there is a considerable margin” said on Friday the number two of the dredgers and buoys union Juan Carlos Schmid.
However he admitted that the channel has had difficulties for some time and large vessels face serious inconveniences when entering the port of Mar del Plata.
“Having the channel in good safety and navigation conditions is a responsibility of the federal government; I believe a tender is being drafted to improve access, because the channel is quite narrow in some areas”, added Schmid.
But this will not prevent the big party scheduled for next Wednesday when ARA Libertad after having been retained impounded in Ghana since October, makes her triumphal return escorted by the corvette Espora which was also delayed in South Africa, for mechanical reasons, but under threat of a similar impound action from hedge funds.
ARA Espora on Thursday called at Rio do Janeiro and has programmed the rest of the trip in such a way that it will emerge in the Mar del Plata horizon next to ARA Libertad.
However to avoid any possible difficulties when entering the port where President Cristina Fernandez and her cabinet will be waiting, the two vessels are scheduled to sail in at high tide at 17:25 hours.
The head of the navy in Mar del Plata, Carlos Barrios Cardozo, said that they were “coordinating the naval route and organising security for the ships’ arrival into the port.”
“The ships will arrive on Wednesday the 9th of January between 5pm and 6pm and will have helicopter security and the coastguard present. “The idea is that the arrival be a celebration and that nothing strange happens,” Cardozo said.
Following the formalities of the reception ceremony, and probably a strong speech in support of sovereignty and condemning hedge funds from President Cristina Fernandez, the Argentine leader leaves for a trade mission to Emirates and Indonesia.
The port and surrounding area will then be opened for a dance and singing party with the participation of several rock groups, which is expected to be a great success since it coincides with the peak of the summer season in Mar del Plata and the Atlantic coast.
ARA Libertad was impounded 2 October on arrival at Tema, Ghana on demand from a New York court order favouring US hedge funds trying to make effective Argentine defaulted sovereign bonds.
After several diplomatic attempts failed the case reached the International Court of the UN Law of the Sea with seat in Hamburg which ordered Ghana to release ARA Libertad.
The recovery of the frigate on a naval cadets final training course was presented by the government of President Cristina Fernandez as a battle for Argentine sovereignty threatened by hedge funds and other forces intent in humiliating Argentina and bringing down her government.