Neopanamax Bulker to Test Panama Canal’s Agua Clara Locks

As the long-awaited inauguration date of the Expanded Panama Canal approaches, the canal’s locks are set for another round of tests which will be undertaken by the Neopanamax dry bulk carrier MN Baroque, according to the Panama Canal Authority’s industry newsletter.

Contracted this week, the 2011-built vessel will conduct multiple daily lockages through the new Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks for testing and training purposes, Panama Canal’s Pilot Training Coordinator Captain Peter Pusztai said.

The vessel, which is currently transiting from the port of Mundra, India to the South African port of Durban, is expected to arrive in Panama on June 7, 2016.

Featuring a length of 255 meters and a beam of 43 meters, MN Baroque will also further prepare pilots, tugboat captains and deck officers for operations within the expanded canal.

MN Baroque is owned by Switzerland’s shipping company SwissMarine, the Panama Canal said.

The announcement follows a safety study released on April 27 by the Brazilian company Fundação Homem de Mar (FHM) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which puts into question the safety of transit through the new locks.

Using a Manoeuvring Simulator Class A to recreate the new locks, a neo-Panamax vessel and the tugboats that would assist its manoeuvres, the new study found several issues compromising the safety of transit in the new locks.

After the safety study was presented in Panama City by FHM and the ITF, the Panama Canal Authority said that the findings were inadmissible as they put into question the safety of the new locks, also suggesting that the study is not based on a mathematical model, questioning its scientific accuracy and credibility.

World Maritime News Staff

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