The crew of an Argentine ship detained over a debt dispute brandished weapons to stop Ghanaian port authorities from relocating it to a new berth in the West African nation, officials said Sunday.
Port officials had on Thursday tried to move the navy ship Libertad to a different berth over a court order to clear space for commercial activity, but the sailors pulled out their guns, forcing the officials to abandon the plan.
Argentina's defence ministry said in a statement that the crew was ordered on deck with their regular weapons to prevent Ghanaian officials from boarding the ship, alleging the Ghanaians did not have a proper court order to do so.
The acting director of Tema Port, Jacob Kwabla Adorkor, told AFP that "they pointed guns at us and threatened to shoot if we dare enter the vessel. Consequently, they removed the gangway, preventing us from entering the vessel.
"In the first place, when we got there, they used a water hose to spray us with water and we retreated a bit. When they realised that we were using other avenues to get on board, they brought their rifles out and got ready to shoot."
Adorkor said that Ghana would on Monday file contempt charges against the ship. Lawrence Atumbine, spokesman for the port, outlined Ghana's next line of action.
"We have planned to cut as from Monday services to them in the areas of water, electricity and fuel to them. We believe this will compel them to allow us to relocate the vessel," he told AFP.
The Argentine statement said electricity and water supply had also been cut to the ship during the incident on Thursday.
Lawyers acting for Buenos Aires argued that moving the Libertad could prove dangerous as the vessel lacked manpower after more than 280 crew members were evacuated last month.
Court claims by NML Capital Limited have led to the detention of the ship.
NML, a Cayman Islands investment firm, has said it is owed $370 million (283 million euros) by Argentina.
The subsidiary of New York-based Elliott Capital Management bought Argentine bonds at a discount when the country's economy was in freefall in 2000. Buenos Aires later defaulted.
Argentina has rescheduled and refinanced much of its debt, but bonds held by speculative funds such as NML are among its unsettled business.© ANP/AFP