A Foreshadowing of Things to Come?
A neopanamax containership was reported to have bumped into the wall of one of the new locks of the expanded Panama Canal, suffering a gash to its hull.
The 8,500-TEU MV Xin Fei Zhou, owned by COSCO Shipping Line, scraped its side last Thursday during a northbound transit of the Agua Clara locks on the Atlantic side of the canal, the reports said.
The incident highlights earlier warnings that the new locks are riskier than the original canal, leading some to question whether this will be a recurring scenario. The older locks use locomotives to guide ships through the waterway while the new locks use two tugboats to guide ships through.
A study released by the International Transport Workers’ Federation after the expanded canal was inaugurated last month concluded that the dimensions of the new locks chambers are too small for maneuvering with tugboats and questioned whether the safety of vessels in the new locks is compromised.
The Panama Canal Authority denied the conclusions of the ITF study, claiming they lacked scientific accuracy.
The authority said it is investigating the recent incident, and noted that it is the first such incident since the inauguration of the expanded canal on June 26.
The MV Xin Fei Zhou was most recently reported anchored off Colon, Panama.
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