In December, Ghana released an Argentine navy training ship, the Libertad, which it had seized under court order. The incident began in October when the sailing vessel was impounded at Terma, Ghana, while taking part in an African training cruise. The Libertad was held at the request of foreign creditors who claimed her as collateral for debts stemming from Argentina’s 2002 economic crisis. With all but a skeleton crew forced to evacuate the ship, the rhetoric became increasingly heated, and several senior Argentine naval officials were forced to resign. It was not until mid-December that the U.N. International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea intervened, ruling unanimously in favor of Argentina and stating that “a warship enjoys immunity . . . any act which prevents by force a warship from discharging its mission and duties is a source of conflict.” The ship was released following the U.N. decision, and she immediately sailed for home. Built at Rio Santiago, Argentina, the Libertad was launched in 1956 and has been in service since 1962.
By Eric Wertheim