The first ship reservation for the Expanded Panama Canal was granted to a Neopanamax liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker Linden Pride, owned by Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line).
“Today marks an important day in canal history because the reservation system is now opened for Neopanamax ships that will start using the new lane starting June 27,” Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said.
“We are pleased with the results of this initial phase of transit reservations and we hope that each day more vessels transit through the expanded canal,” Quijano added.
The 230-meter long and 36.6-meter wide tanker, represented by Panama-based shipping agent Norton Lilly International, was granted one of the four additional slots per day for commercial transits through the canal starting on June 27, 2016.
These slots for Neopanamax vessels, with dimensions of over 294.44 meters in length or over 32.62 meters in beam, were added to the existing 25 slots of the current canal.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) launched transit reservations for Neopanamax vessels last week as the inauguration date for the expanded locks and the commercial operations of the canal is approaching.
ACP further informed that Neopanamaxes will have a strict arrival schedule, and in case of late arrival, the vessels will be required to pay penalties of an additional fee of 25%, 50%, 75% or 100%, depending on the late arrival time.
Once the first period of competition closed, 25 Neopanamax vessels had reserved transit through the new locks in the period from June 27, 2016 to September 30, 2016.
Up until now, the ACP has introduced three draft restrictions for all vessels transiting the canal, with the latest one being effective from May 9, 2016 due to lower water levels of the Gatun Lake.
As a result, the maximum authorized transit draft is set at 11.59 meters Tropical Fresh Water (TFW), the ACP said.
Based on the latest update from the canal authority, Panama Canal’s long-awaited expansion project has reached 97 percent completion.
The new locks will allow for the passage of between 10 and 12 Neopanamax vessels in approximately 40 daily transits through the Panama Canal.
World Maritime News Staff