ARA Libertad (Q-2)

ARA Libertad (Q-2) is a steel-hulled, full-rigged, class "A"[4][5] sailing ship that serves as a school vessel in the Argentine Navy. One of the largest[7] and fastest tall ships in the world,[8][9] holder of several speed records,[5] she was designed and built in the 1950s by the Río Santiago Shipyard, Ensenada, Argentina.[2] Her maiden voyage was in 1961, and she continues to be a training ship with yearly instruction trips for the graduating naval cadets as well as a traveling goodwill ambassador,[8][10] having covered more than 800,000 nautical miles (1,500,000 km) across all seas, visited about 500 ports in more than 60 countries,[11] and trained more than 11,000 navy graduates.[3]

Libertad entering Dársena Norte, Buenos Aires
Owner Argentine Navy
Ordered13 November 1953 (from a 1946 project)[1]
BuilderRío Santiago Shipyard, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
Laid down11 December 1953[1]
Launched30 May 1956[1]
Commissioned28 May 1963[1]
General characteristics
TypeSteel hulled, full-rigged class "A"[4][5] tall ship
Displacement3,765 tonnes[2]
Length103.75 m (340.4 ft)[2] (hull 91.7 meters)
Beam14.31 m (46.9 ft)[2]
Draft6.60 m (21.7 ft)[2]
PropulsionPre mlu: 2 × Sulzer diesel engines[2] Post mlu: 2 × MAN diesel engines B&W mod. 6L23/30-D, each with 6 inline cylinders and 960 kW at 900 rpm[3]
SpeedPre mlu: 13.5 knots (25.0 km/h)[2] (engine power only) Post mlu: 13.73 knots (25.43 km/h)[3] (engine power only)
Range12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km) at 8 knots (15 km/h)[2] (engine power only)
Complement24 officers, 187 crewmen, as well as 150 cadets[2]
Armament4 47 mm QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss cannons[6]


The ninth Argentine Navy vessel to bear the name Libertad,[2] she has a total length (including bowsprit) of 103.75 m; a beam of 14.31 m; a draft of 6.60 m; and a displacement of 3,765 tonnes: these figures place ARA Libertad as the world's sixth longest tall ship and the third heaviest in displacement.[7] Her complement is 357, including 24 officers, 187 crewmen and 150 naval cadets,[2] among them an ever-increasing number of invited officers from friendly nations' armed forces, personnel from the Argentine Army, Air Force and Coast Guard, students, journalists and distinguished people from different areas and disciplines, both local and foreign.[1][12]

The ship's follows the archetypal windjammer design, with a clipper bow and a wood-carved figurehead representing Liberty in a long flowing robe and a cruiser stern bearing the Argentine coat of arms in cast bronze.[8]

She is an all square rigged vessel, with bowsprit and three steel masts –Fore, Main (height of 56,2m), and Mizzen with boom– with double topsails and five yardarms each, which can rotate up to 45 degrees on each side. Five jibs are fixed to the bowsprit. All masts have five square sails, with the foremast and mainmast having three staysails, and the mizzen, a spanker, summing up 27 dacron sails with a total sail area of 2,652 square meters.[2] Masts have a circular cross section, formed by welded steel sheets between 9.5mm and 12mm thick.[13]

The vessel carries four fully functional 47 mm QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss cannons, 1891 model,[6] which were transferred from the previous school ship ARA Presidente Sarmiento.[citation needed] Although only used as a protocolar salute battery, these cannons make Libertad the second most heavily armed tall ship in the world.[7]


Design, construction and commissioningEdit

A bronze plaque reading "Built at Río Santiago Shipyard – A.F.N.E. Argentine Republic – Year 1962" (in Spanish) on board ARA Libertad

Continuously since 1873 the Argentine Navy had a number of commissioned school ships in active service for training future officers in seamanship skills.[1] In 1938, after retirement of ARA Presidente Sarmiento as seagoing academy vessel, her role was temporarily undertaken by the light cruiser ARA La Argentina. The project for a definitive replacement ship fully conceived and built by Argentines started in 1946.

On 11 December 1953, during Juan Domingo Perón's second term, the vessel's keel was laid down at the Río Santiago Shipyard, A.F.N.E. ("State Shipbuilding and Naval Factories", itself a peronist creation). Between 1954 and 1955 the shipyard engineers included several modifications to the vessel's original design and configuration. During the de facto government of the self called "Liberating Revolution" the name "Libertad" was imposed by decree number 7922 (April 27, 1956).

On 30 May 1956 she was launched to sea, but her completion and commissioning suffered the vicissitudes of that Argentine period's unease political situation. The sea trials began in March 1961 and were carried to term under the command of Captain Atilio Porretti, who ordered changes to the vessel's rigging and figurehead. During this baptism voyage the ship successfully rode out a violent South Atlantic Ocean tempest. In March 1962 she joined the Navy's Instruction Division, formally starting out as the country's school ship.[1] One year later, on 28 May 1963, the finished frigate was delivered to the Argentine Navy and, with the ceremonial hoisting of the Argentine Ensign, formally commissioned to replace ARA La Argentina as the Navy's school ship. On June 19, and without her figurehead attached (still being carved in wood by Galician-Argentine sculptor Carlos García González[14]), she sailed from Buenos Aires on her first training voyage in command of Captain Horacio Ferrari, along with officers Orlando Perez Cobo, Heinz Otto Grunewald, and Lieutenant Commander Mario A. Manfredi as public relations officer.

Trophies and notable voyagesEdit

Bow view of Libertad docked in Dublin

In 1964 the frigate competed for the first time in a major offshore race for tall ships between the ports of Lisbon and Hamilton, Bermuda.[15] In 1965 she completed her first round-the-world trip.[15]

In 1966, during her fourth instruction voyage, ARA Libertad won the Great Medal Prize for establishing the tall ships' world record for crossing the North Atlantic Ocean using only sail propulsion. She did so by running between Cape Race (Canada) and the imaginary line going from Dublin to Liverpool –2,058.6 nautical miles (3,812.5 km)– in 8 days and 12 hours, a record that has not been beaten.[2][8] During the same trip, she also set the 124-hour run record for a sail school ship at 1,335 nautical miles,[16] for which she was awarded the Boston Teapot Trophy.[8] The captain was Commander Ricardo Guillermo Franke, and the Boston Teapot was presented by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in name of Queen Elizabeth II.[17]Libertad has won the Boston Teapot Trophy nine times in total: in 1966, 1976, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1992, 1998, 2000, and 2007.[18][19]

In 1970 she was part of the "Parade of Large Sailboats" in Sydney celebrating the bicentenary of the first European settlement in Australia.[15]

The ship took part in the celebrations of the United States Bicentennial on July 4, 1976, by sailing in parade, with many other tall ships from all over the world, on the Hudson River, in front of New York City, in what was called Operation Sail. She also participated in 1964, 1986, 1992[20] and 2012.[21] During 1976's Operation Sail the Spanish ship Juan Sebastián Elcano collided with Libertad and with the full-rigged, three masted Norwegian ship Christian Radich just off the coast of Bermuda. The collision snapped Elcano's foremast just above the forecourse yardarm, forcing her to abandon the race and return to New York under engine power. Libertad suffered only light damage (two torn sails, smashed lifeboats and port rail) and, like Christian Radich, continued in the competition without problems.[22]

Libertad in 2003 sailing away with furled lower sails

In 1985 raced in "Sail Amsterdam" in the Netherlands and in the celebrations for the Statue of Liberty centenary in New York City.[15] One year later Libertad sailed in Bremerhaven in Germany.[15] In 1989, among many events, she was part of "Les Voiles de la Liberté" for the bicentennial of the French Revolution in the port of Rouen, France.[15]

In 1992 was part of the great Cadiz regatta in commemoration of the 500 anniversary of Columbus' 1492 voyage.[1][15] In 1997 she sailed in the international race "Sail Osaka 97" in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the port of Osaka, Japan.[15]

In 1998 Libertad won Americas' Sail tall ship race between Savannah, Georgia and Glen Cove, New York, United States.[23]

In 1999 took part in the gathering of tall ships "The Navy of the Century" in France.[15]

By presidential decree number 727 (May 30, 2001) the frigate was designated as "Embassy of the Republic as a matter of honorary distinction and with purely protocolar effect".[24]

On 2 October 2003, she caught fire while anchored off the Spanish port of Ferrol during that year's training trip. The incident severely damaged the ship's hull and bedrooms of aspiring midshipmen, and five sailors were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Three fire fighting squads brought the fire under control after three hours. Following this incident, between 2004 and 2006 the instructional trips were made aboard the multipurpose ship Hercules.

ARA Libertad participated in Velas Sudamerica 2010, an historical Latin American tour by eleven tall ships to celebrate the bicentennial of the first national governments of Argentina and Chile.[25]

Mid-life upgradeEdit

Libertad being updated at Río Santiago

In 2004 she underwent a general mid-life update with special effort put into security and comfort, seeking to extend the vessel's lifespan for at least another forty years.[3] The extensive works were finished in April 2007 and included:

  • New integral painting
  • Replacement of all Burma teak[26] linings
  • Modernization of steering gear
  • Renewal of kitchens, laundry, nursing and dental office equipment
  • Upgrading of all light appliances
  • Replacement of all ship's piping and vents, using new materials and adapting them to the new embedded systems
  • Building foundations for the new systems and equipment parts[27]

The overhaul, performed at Río Santiago Shipyard by more than 350 workers, required 285 tonnes of metal for the hull, decks and internal structures and over 25 tonnes of different shaped steel profiles.[27]

Bedrooms and bathrooms were refitted to allow the incorporation of female midshipmen, corporals and sergeants, in line with current diversity policies in the Argentine Navy. The propulsion plant was upgraded to two MAN B&W turbocharged diesel engines mod. 6L23/30-D, each with six inline cylinders and 960 kW at 900 rpm[3] that improved performance to a maximum speed of 13.73 knots and a cruising speed of 12.5 knots (from previous 13.5 and 8 knots respectively)[27] This modification included replacing the propeller shaft.[27][28]

The radar navigation system was replaced by an advanced model that holds greater scope and definition. The vessel update also included changing all power, communications, alarm, signalling and monitoring cabling, an adaptation required for the newly incorporated systems. The rigging was fully upgraded, which included bringing down, checking and repairing the spars, and renewing more than 55,000 meters of ropes, shrouds, backstays and steel cables.[27]

During the three years Libertad was under overhaul, cadets sailed on the Navy's corvettes ARA Rosales, ARA Spiro, ARA Parker[29] and on the Chilean Navy school ship Esmeralda (BE-43)[30]

Ghana incidentEdit

In early October 2012 the vessel was impounded in the port of Tema, Ghana, by a court ruling in favour of NML Capital, a subsidiary of Cayman Islands hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation, which claimed that it was owed US$370m (£233m) as a consequence of Argentina's debt defaults of 2002,[31] and was seeking payment of $20m for release of the vessel.[32] NML was not originally a creditor, but bought the debt for "pennies on the dollar" according to Forbes.[33] Argentina's foreign ministry condemned the move, claiming it as "a stunt" pulled by "vulture funds, who are not subject to the laws of any jurisdiction".[34][35][36]

On 25 October 2012 most of the ship's crew returned to Argentina, leaving the captain and 43 crew members with the ship in Ghana.[37]

On 15 December 2012 the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled unanimously that the ship had immunity as a military vessel, and ordered that "Ghana should forthwith and unconditionally release the frigate ARA Libertad", and report to the Tribunal on compliance by 22 December.[31][38] Libertad was released from Tema on 19 December. She arrived on 9 January 2013 to the port of Mar del Plata, where the ship got an enthusiastic homecoming.[39] Following the International Tribunal ruling, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority sued NML Capital for damages of least US$7.6 million related to the Libertad's impoundment.[40] The Supreme Court of Ghana ruled in June 2013 that the 77-day impoundment was "unjustified, and could have endangered the security of Ghana by triggering a diplomatic conflict."[41]

Honors and decorationsEdit

Interesting factsEdit

500 rubles

The Libertad is depicted in the port of Arkhangelsk on the Russian 500,000-ruble bill (1997) and 500-ruble bill (1998, 2001, 2004).[43] According to Honored Artist of Russia Igor Krylkov, his original design featuring a steamship was rejected by the Central Bank of Russia, which preferred a sailing boat. Krylkov then substituted a new ship based on the first photograph he found of a large frigate, not knowing he was drawing a ship that had never been to Arkhangelsk.[44][45]


See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Libertad en el Mar. El sitio web de la Fragata Libertad. 200 Años Bicentenario Argentino" (in Spanish). Argentine Navy. Archived from the original on 2012-12-22. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Armada Argentina. Buque Escuela" (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Estado Mayor General de la Armada. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Modernización Fragata ARA Libertad" (PDF) (in Spanish, English, and Portuguese). Pan American Institute of Naval Engineering. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-23. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  4. ^ a b "STI measurement form" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2013-01-10. Class "A" denotes any sailing vessel over 40 meters in length and all square-rigged vessels
  5. ^ a b c "Three Masted Tall Ships". Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Archived from the original on 25 September 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  6. ^ a b Stephen Saunders (1 July 2005). Jane's Fighting Ships 2005–2006. Jane's Information Group.
  7. ^ a b c "The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's Tall Ship Top Ten List". Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Sail Boston 2009". Sail Boston. Archived from the original on 2010-11-29. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
  9. ^ "A Salute to the Fourth; Pride of Many Nations, in Oak, Pine, Iron and Steel". New York Times. 30 June 2000. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  10. ^ Luis Martino, Argentina’s Charge D’Affaires to Guyana (16 July 2011). ‘Libertad’ comes a-calling, bearing message of peace, friendship (Speech). Guyana Chronicle Online. The main mission of the ship as it sails through the seas of the world every year is to convey the main message of solidarity, friendship, and peace to the peoples of the countries that it visits. [...] The Argentine Navy says that the fundamental mission of the frigate is to train future officers of the Argentine Navy by instilling in them the virtues of men and women of goodwill, and transmitting the knowledge of navigation through the seas of the world, carrying a message of peace and friendship to all the nations it visits, a message deeply rooted in each member of the crew.
  11. ^ "Argentine Navy sail ship visiting Manila". The Manila Times. 2 July 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Libertad comes a-calling, bearing message of peace, friendship". Guyana Chronicle Online. 16 July 2011. Accompanying the Argentine crew [in the vessel's 2011 voyage] are nine cadets of the Uruguayan Naval Academy and 14 others from Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Panama.
  13. ^ "Buque Escuela Fragata ARA Libertad. Especificaciones Técnicas" (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Estado Mayor General de la Armada. Archived from the original on 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  14. ^ "El escultor que dotó a la fragata Libertad de su mascarón" (in Spanish). Revista Magazine. Archived from the original on 2014-06-04. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Buque Escuela Fragata ARA Libertad. Participación en Regatas" (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Estado Mayor General de la Armada. Archived from the original on 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  16. ^ "Armada Argentina. Buque Escuela" (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Estado Mayor General de la Armada. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2012-12-15. In 1976 she sailed 1,247 nautical miles (nmi); in 1979, 1,029 nmi; in 1981 she reached 1,115 nmi and in 1987, 1,173 nmi.
  17. ^ "IFR 2013. Participating Tall Ships". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 2012-12-15. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
  18. ^ "The Boston Tea Pot Trophy. Sailing Results (In year order)". The National Institute for Sea Training (NIST). Archived from the original on 2013-01-06.
  19. ^ "The Boston Teapot Previous Winners" (PDF). Sail Training International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
  20. ^ "La Libertad Argentina, moored in Oslo harbour, Norway". Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  21. ^ "OpSail names first 7 tall ships for 2012 sailing". OpSail. Archived from the original on 2014-06-04. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
  22. ^ "It was a bang-up start in Bicentennial ship race". The Miami News. Associated Press. 21 June 1976. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  23. ^ "Pepsi Americas' Sail History". Archived from the original on 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
  24. ^ "Boletín Oficial de la República Argentina" (in Spanish). Dirección General del Registro Oficial Nacional, Secretaría Legal y Técnica de la Presidencia de la Nación. 5 June 2001.
  25. ^ "Velas Sudamerica 2010. Encuentro y Regata Bicentenario de Grandes Veleros" (in Spanish, English, and Portuguese). Velas Sudamerica 2010. Argentine and Chilean Navies. Archived from the original on 2012-10-25.
  26. ^ "Navy Today. The ARA Libertad". Royal New Zealand Navy. November 2008. Archived from the original on 2010-05-21. Retrieved 2013-01-15. We sat down in the elegantly appointed great cabin in the stern of Libertad, furnished beautifully in wood panelling with a portrait of the President and various trophies won by the Libertad. The timber used in the great cabin is Birmanian (from Burma, which is Birmania in Spanish) and the Argentine dockyard has kept a stock since the late 1940s.
  27. ^ a b c d e "Astillero Río Santiago entregará la Fragata Libertad" (in Spanish). Impulso Baires. Archived from the original on 2014-06-04. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  28. ^ "Navy Today. The ARA Libertad". Royal New Zealand Navy. November 2008. Archived from the original on 2010-05-21. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  29. ^ "Buque Escuela Fragata ARA Libertad. Viaje de Instrucción" (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Estado Mayor General de la Armada. Archived from the original on 2013-06-27. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  30. ^ "Cadetes argentinos navegarán en la fragata chilena Esmeralda" (in Spanish). La Nacion. 28 August 2004. Its previous overhaul under the supervision of now retired Admiral Emilio Courthiade, leading to the regatta of worldwide navy school vessels in 1992, failed to put Libertad in the top ten
  31. ^ a b "Ghana told to free Argentine ship Libertad by UN court". BBC News. 15 December 2012. Archived from the original on 3 July 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  32. ^ "Argentina takes ship dispute with Ghana to UN court". BBC News. 14 November 2012. Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  33. ^ Agustino Fontevecchia (5 October 2012). "The Real Story Of How A Hedge Fund Detained A Vessel In Ghana And Even Went For Argentina's 'Air Force One". Forbes. Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  34. ^ "Argentina ship in Ghana seized over loans default". BBC News. 4 October 2012. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  35. ^ Tim FernHolz (4 October 2012). "Some Hedge Funds Only Seem Like Pirates—This One Actually Stole a Ship". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 18 July 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  36. ^ "El millonario estadounidense que cazó el barco es asesor de Romney" (in Spanish). El País International. 20 October 2012. Archived from the original on 13 December 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  37. ^ "Seized ship crew back in Argentina from Ghana". BBC News. 25 October 2012. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  38. ^ "Order: The "ARA Libertad" Case" (PDF). International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Hamburg. 15 December 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  39. ^ Daniel Schweimler (10 January 2013). "Argentine naval frigate returns home". Financial Times.
  40. ^ "Giro: ahora Ghana quiere hacer juicio al fondo buitre". Ámbito Financiero. December 21, 2012. Archived from the original on December 22, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  41. ^ "La Corte Suprema de Ghana consideró que la retención de la Fragata fue injusta". InfoNews. June 20, 2013. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  42. ^ a b c d "Buque Escuela Fragata ARA Libertad. Condecoraciones" (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Estado Mayor General de la Armada. Archived from the original on 2013-12-15. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  43. ^ "Курьез на банкноте в 500 рублей". Museum of Money. 29 September 2015. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  44. ^ Syromyatnikov, Oleg (23 September 2015). "Ошибка Художника" [Artist's Mistake]. Saint Petersburg Collector. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  45. ^ Gnedinskaya, Anastasia (26 June 2011). "Khudozhnik ot kupyur" Художник от купюр [The Artist of the Banknotes] (in Russian). Moskovskij Komsomolets. Archived from the original on 4 December 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2015.


  • Amendolara Bourdette, Ignacio. Guía de los buques de la Armada Argentina 2005–2006 (in Spanish and English). IPN Editores. ISBN 987-43-9400-5.

External linksEdit