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  December 23rd, 2016 | Written by

Expanded Panama Canal Welcomes its 500th Neopanamax Transit

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  • The neopanamax YM Unity has a carrying capacity of 8,200 TEUs.
  • The expanded Panama Canal is experiencing a steady flow of traffic.
  • Liquefied natural gas vessels is a new market segment for the Panama Canal.

Less than six months after the inauguration of the expanded Panama Canal, the waterway welcomed its 500th transit of a neopanamax ship, highlighting the trust that Canal customers have placed in the route.

Performing the 500th transit was the container vessel YM Unity, which began its passage through the Cocoli Locks in the Pacific and then headed north towards the Agua Clara Locks. Built in 2006, the YM Unity (of the Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation) measures 335.7 meters in length and 42.8 meters in beam and has a carrying capacity of 8,200 TEUs. The ship is traveling from Asia and stopped at Colon Container Terminal in Panama before heading to U.S. ports.

Its transit marks a significant milestone for the expanded canal, which is experiencing a steady flow of traffic, including containerships, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) vessels, dry bulk carriers, vehicle carriers, crude product tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels, which is a new market segment for the canal.

A number of major liners have rerouted their service to the canal since the expansion opened for business to take advantage of the significant time savings the new waterway provides. As of this month, ten neopanamax liner services are being deployed through the expanded Panama Canal.

A report from October indicated that the expanded canal has a significant amount of unused capacity through the expanded locks.

“We’re increasingly optimistic from what we’ve seen with these traffic patterns because they show that our customers are finding real value in the route, not just in the time savings it offers, but in the efficient, reliable, and safe service we provide, and the growing port and transshipment options we’re making available to them,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.

“Looking forward, we’re taking steps to enhance Panama’s shipping infrastructure so that we can provide an even more holistic set of offerings to shippers and their cargo, and further strengthen the country’s position as the logistics hub of the Americas,” he said.

Four other ships transited the same day through the expanded canal as the YM Unity. The YM Unity was the first and marked the 500th transit. The other ships included an LNG and LPG vessel, a bulk carrier, and another container ship.