A Bahía Blanca Federal Court of Appeals has upheld a judicial ruling whereby the decommissioned destroyer ARA Santísima Trinidad which took part in the Apr. 2, 1982 landing at Port Stanley, can not be sold as scrap metal, despite its current state of deterioration.
War veterans had opposed the scrapping and sale of the most emblematic ship, which they would like to see restored and turned into a museum. The ARA Santísima Trinidad sank at the Puerto Belgrano Naval Base in 2013 due to a lack of maintenance
The Bahía Blanca Federal Court of Appeals upheld Judge Walter López Da Silva's ruling last September which prevented any further action on the destroyer pending the outcome of the trial filed by the veterans, who invoked laws regarding the nation's cultural heritage.
The judicial case had been filed by private citizen Jorge Oliver after President Alberto Fernández's Decree 1017/20 dated Dec. 17, 2020, ordered the Santísima Trinidad to be sold as scrap metal.
Lawyers on behalf of the National State cited the risks and costs of keeping the structure afloat, in addition to the repair costs sought by the groups of veterans. But the Bahía Blanca court maintained theirs was just a precautionary measure pending the outcome of a trial and as such, they did not need to delve into technicalities such as costs or projects. The measure was just intended to leave the Santísima Trinidad available for those projects if that is what the courts decided on the case mandate, which would not be possible if it was sold as scar metal at this stage.
The Bahía Blanca Justices also agreed, nevertheless, that the ship's participation in the 1982 events made it eligible to be classified as cultural heritage under Law 25.197. The court also cited previous negotiations between the federal governments and organizations to turn the Santísima Trinidad into a museum would prove even the national state would go for that solution rather than for the scrapping deal. The Ministry of Culture's National Commission of Monuments and Museums is involved in the proceedings.
After the vessel sank in 2013 due to poor maintenance and even after refloating it, the Argentine Navy ruled that the ship was unrecoverable and that even moving it by tow to the high seas to be sunk with honours was risky because it could cause its shipwreck in the access channel to the port Bahía Blanca's commercial area, blocking merchant traffic in its entirety.
Despite these considerations, a group of veterans led by Oliver took the case to the courts, requesting the ship's custody be handed over to the November 20 Foundation by the provisions of law 25,197 (Cultural Heritage Regime)
The ARA Santísima Trinidad was a class 42 missile destroyer deemed to be a twin of the HMS Sheffield sunk by Argentine aviation during the war.
War veterans quoted by Infobae hoped President Fernández would now backtrack on his decision to scrap the Santísima Trinidad and allocate the funding for its restoring. Those funds would be recovered through an entrance fee charged to visitors of the future museum, Infobae explained.