WSS Launches New Canal Transit Service
Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS) has launched a new canal transit solution designed to ensure that its customers’ vessels pass through the new Panama and Suez canals with the optimum efficiency, speed and safety.
The service, which will be run by dedicated local teams, has already picked up its first contract, securing an agreement with leading very large gas carrier (VLGC) owner and operator Avance Gas for the Panama Canal transit of its neopanamax ships Passat and Breeze.
WSS has created 24/7 transit desks in both Panama and Egypt. These combine local knowledge with global support and service standards, arranging all permits, payments, rebates, and regulatory affairs, and delivering further support services. In addition, WSS can supply vessels with their extensive range of marine products and chemicals during transits.
“We’re answering market demand with a service that will help our customers maximize the potential of these exciting new shipping infrastructure projects,” said Steffen Langlete, a WSS product manager. “Both of these expansion programs have the potential to deliver huge time, capacity and cost efficiencies for shipowners and operators, but only if their transits are problem free.
“Our local expert ships agency staff are effectively taking the administration and transit support concerns off their hands, leaving them with peace of mind and an ability to focus on what’s most important to them – a safe and efficient passage for their vessels and crew.”
The first ships to take advantage of the offer are the two 83,000 CMB VLGCs from Avance Gas. Passat and Breeze passed through the new canal – which should double the capacity of the existing waterway, with two new sets of locks and deeper, wider shipping channels – in the last week of June. The canal itself opened on June 26 as the neopanamax vessel COSCO Shipping Panama made its inaugural passage.
“WSS Agency has a strong relationship with Avance,” said Langlete, “which appreciates our global network and standardised high quality services for its diverse international fleet. We understand their needs and they understand the benefits of our integrated service, products and expert staff.”
The Panama Canal expansion program is the largest development project to take place on the waterway since its opening in 1914. Egypt’s new Suez Canal expansion opened in August 2015, cutting vessel waiting time from 11 hours to three hours and potentially doubling the number of daily transits.
“Though it’s unlikely the expansions will in fact cause congestion and lengthy delays as some have suggested,” said Langlete, “it is nevertheless a real advantage for our customers to have someone on hand that knows the authorities, the real-time weather and transit conditions, and the language. We are effectively their eyes and ears on the ground.”
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