Less than nine months after the inauguration of the Expanded Panama Canal, the waterway has welcomed the 1,000th transit of a Neopanamax vessel.
MSC Anzu, a 8,800 TEU containership owned by Swiss Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), made the 1,000th transit on March 19, heading northbound from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
Built by China’s New Times Shipbuilding in 2015, the Panama-flagged boxship has a length of 300 meters and a width of 48.2 meters.
During the transit, the ship called at Panamanian port terminals on the Pacific and Atlantic to discharge and load cargo destined for its final destinations. MSC Anzu is part of the SAWC-USA-NWC service between Europe, the United States and the South America West Coast that was consolidated last year to take advantage of the expanded waterway.
“Today’s transit represents a considerable milestone, marking the industry’s strong adoption of the Expanded Canal and its successful operations thus far,” Jorge L. Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator, said.
The Expanded Panama Canal is experiencing a steady flow of traffic – including containerships, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) vessels, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels. Other types of ships such as dry bulk carriers, vehicle carriers, and crude product tankers have also transited through the canal.
The container segment accounts for nearly half the transits through the Expanded Canal and represents its principal source of traffic. As of March 2017, the average number of Neopanamaxes transiting the new lane per day is 5.9.
In February 2017, the Panama Canal set a new daily tonnage record of 1.18 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS) after welcoming a total of 1,180 vessels through both the expanded and original locks. The previous records were established in December 2016 and January 2017, when the waterway recorded a daily tonnage average of 35.4 million PC/UMS and 36.1 million PC/UMS, respectively.
“Although the full impact will be felt gradually over time, we’re very encouraged by the success of the Expanded Canal thus far as trade patterns continue to shift in favor of the route,” Oscar Bazan, Panama Canal’s Executive Vice President of Planning and Business Development, commented.
Some major liner services have redirected service to the canal in an effort to take advantage of the economies of scale the waterway provides. So far, 13 Neopanamax liner services have been deployed through the new locks, primarily on the US East Coast to Asia trade route. What is more, two additional Neopanamax liner services are expected to follow on April 1, bringing the total liner services to 15.
Last week, the Panama Canal revealed plans to launch vessel scheduling and maritime resource management system in order to deal with inflow of cargo following the canal expansion, in response to growing ship traffic through the waterway.
Image Courtesy: Panama Canal Authority