Over 70 Vessels Transit Expanded Panama Canal Since Inauguration
The expanded Panama Canal has transited dozens of neopanamax vessels since the waterway’s inauguration on June 26. Sixty-nine vessels were handled in the new locks from the time of the inauguration through early August.
Among those, 40 containerships, 24 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers, three vehicle carriers, and two liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers have transited the expanded Canal. These LNG vessels were the first to transit the waterway since the canal opened trade possibilities to this new market segment.
In addition, the Panama Canal has received 250 reservations and counting for the expanded canal, including seven cruise ship reservations.
Since the expanded canal opened for business, major liners have rerouted service to the Panama Canal to take advantage of the significant time savings the waterway provides. For example, the 2M Alliance, which includes shipping liners Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co., announced in July it was rerouting Asia-to-U.S. East Coast service to the Panama Canal.
The significant demand shown by the maritime industry reinforces the need for the expansion, its future potential, and the benefits it brings to global commerce and the world’s consumers, according to Panama Canal Administrator and CEO Jorge L. Quijano.
“The increasing demand is further evidence of the maritime industry’s continued trust in the expanded canal, and the great impact it will have on the future of world maritime trade,” said Quijano
June 26 marked the inauguan of the expanded Panama canal with the passage of the containership COSCO Shipping Panama. The following day, the first LPG carrier, the NYK Lycaste Peace, transited.
July 6 marked the first vehicle carrier, the NYK Iris Leader, to traverse the waterway and on July 25, the first LNG carrier, the Maran Gas Apollonia, went through.
Canal operational testing and training remains a priority, according to Quijano. More than 50 trial lockages have taken place in the Agua Clara Locks with the Panama Canal-chartered neopanamax dry bulker, the MV BAROQUE, since the beginning of June. The vessel is used to conduct testing and training of the new locks. Pilots transiting the neopanamax vessels are very skilled and experienced with at least 16 years transiting vessels at the Panama Canal.
“We look forward to setting more milestones and making more progress to meet and exceeding our customers’ expectations and the quality of service they have come to expect at the Panama Canal,” said Quijano.
The Panama Canal expansion included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the waterway, creating a third lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway. The expanded locks are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than those in the original canal.
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