The Panama Canal plans to hold a draw on April 29 to choose the first vessel which will transit through the expanded canal upon its inauguration on June 26.
The proposed vessel is required to not surpass a maximum beam of 49 meters and a maximum overall length of 366 meters.
In addition, the maximum draft or point of immersion for the inaugural transit will be 12.5 meters. For security purposes, Panama Canal Authority says that gas carriers will not be considered for the inaugural transit.
Panama Canal invited its top 15 customers to participate in the draw for the inaugural transit that are required to indicate the vessel’s name, type and dimensions.
The Executive Vice Presidency for operations will verify that each vessel complies with the Panama Canal’s requirements.
Only one Neopanamax vessel in southbound direction is to be allowed to transit the Expanded Panama Canal for its inauguration. Regular commercial transits through the expanded Panama Canal will commence on June 27.
After the expansion that began in 2007, the Post-Panamax vessels with up to 13,000/14,000 TEUs will be able to transit through the canal that will have a double capacity.
The inauguration ceremony of the expanded canal is to be held on Sunday, June 26, 2016, following the final stage in the completion of the third set of locks. It entailed the construction of the two new lock complexes in the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the Panama Canal, creating a third lane of traffic for bigger ships. The expansion project is said to have cost USD 6 billion.
Previously, the inauguration was postponed several times, and most recently due to the cracked locks detected in August 2015 and their repairs.