* NML Capital got court order to detain ship at Ghana port
* Fund suing for over $300 mln in defaulted Argentine bonds
* Argentina appealing embargo, will sue at U.N. tribunal
BUENOS AIRES, Nov 12 Argentina vowed to file
suit against Ghana at a United Nations maritime tribunal on
Wednesday if the country does not release a tall sailing ship
seized after creditors won a court order to keep the vessel in
The frigate ARA Libertad, a naval training ship, was
detained in Ghana's eastern port of Tema on Oct. 2 at the
request of NML Capital Ltd, which claims Argentina owes it $300
million on bonds in default since 2002.
The South American country says international law prohibits
warships from being seized in foreign ports.
"Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 13th, all the deadlines expire
for Ghana's government to lift the embargo, recognizing the
Convention on the Law of the Sea," Argentine Foreign Minister
Hector Timerman told reporters in Buenos Aires on Monday.
He said if Ghana did not release the ship, Argentina would
be able to take its case to the Hamburg-based International
Tribunal for the Law of the Sea the following day.
"The ministry's legal representatives are already in that
city to initiate these legal actions," Timerman said.
Last week, a skeleton crew aboard the Libertad displayed
their weapons on deck to keep Ghanaian port authorities from
forcibly boarding the ship to move it to another berth. The port
officials eventually desisted.
Timerman said Argentina had appealed a court order allowing
the ship to be moved, which meant the order was suspended.
Officials say the embargo violates Argentine sovereignty.
"We have nothing against the ship or the crew," said the
harbor master in Tema, James Quayson. "Every action that we have
taken so far was based on the decisions of the court."
Ghanaian officials say their country is not a party to the
dispute and Argentina must respect the local legal process.
The Libertad was built to carry out training exercises and
it has taken sailors on 40 expeditions since 1963. Its elegant,
billowing sails harken back to the 19th century.
Creditors including NML have won several billion dollars in
damages over Argentina's default in U.S. courts, but they have
largely been unable to collect because most Argentine assets are
protected by sovereign immunity laws.
The litigating creditors are called holdouts because they
rejected Argentina's 2005 and 2010 debt swaps, through which the
country restructured about 93 percent of the roughly $100
billion it defaulted on a decade ago.
The government refers to funds like NML as "vulture funds"
because they buy distressed or defaulted debt and then sue in
international courts to get paid in full.
President Cristina Fernandez said recently that Argentina
will not pay "one dollar to the vulture funds."