An Argentinian navy ship detained for 10 weeks in Ghana because of a dispute with a US-based “vulture fund” has finally set sail from west Africa.
Cristina Fernández, the president of Argentina, welcomed the end of the diplomatic crisis, describing the vessel as “a symbol of sovereignty and national dignity”.
The ARA Libertad, a three-masted sailing vessel used for training, had been visiting Ghana as part of a west African tour and had been due to sail on to Angola when it was detained on 2 October.
This followed a court order obtained by NML Capital, which claims it is owed $370m (£231m) in government bonds following Argentina’s debt default in 2002.
But the international tribunal for the law of the sea ruled on Saturday that Ghana should release the ship, after Argentina argued that a UN convention gives warships immunity from civil claims in foreign ports. The court said holding the ship was “a source of conflict that may endanger friendly relations among states”.
The decision was welcomed by campaigners, who accuse vulture funds of buying the defaulted sovereign debt of poor countries at knockdown prices only to then chase full repayment through foreign courts.
The Libertad departed Ghana’s main port, Tema, on Wednesday. “The boat has just set sail after supplies (arrived),” Jacob Kwabla Adokor, the port director, told Reuters. “Everything went smoothly. The ropes came off 20 minutes ago.”
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