Largest Vessel To-Date Transits Panama Canal’s New Locks

Image Courtesy: Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal welcomed the 13,092 TEU Neopanamax containership COSCO Development on May 2, the largest vessel both in dimension and capacity to transit the Expanded Canal since it was inaugurated in June 2016.

Measuring 366 meters in length and 48,2 meters in beam, the mammoth began its voyage in Asia, and will soon become the largest ship to arrive on the US East Coast when it calls at several ports there next week.

The vessel, which is in length equivalent to the length of one Eiffel Tower or eight Statues of Liberty, is deployed on the new OCEAN Alliance’s weekly South Atlantic Express (SAX) service, connecting Asia-US East Coast ports via the Panama Canal. The SAX service is comprised of 11 vessels ranging in size from 11,000 to 13,000 TEUs.

The alliance includes China COSCO Shipping, Orient Overseas Container Lines (OOCL), CMA CGM Group and Evergreen, which are among the Panama Canal’s top customers by volume, the ACP informed.

In the days since its inauguration, the Expanded Canal has seen its Neopanamax traffic steadily increase. Thus far, the Expanded Canal has handled more than 1,200 Neopanamax vessels-an average of 5.9 vessels per day, when a daily estimate of two and three transits was initially forecast for the first year of operation. In addition, a total of 15 new liner services have shifted to take advantage of the new route.

Containerships represent some 43 percent of traffic through the new locks, followed by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, which represent around 29.1 and 8.3 percent, respectively. Other segments such as bulk carriers, tankers and car carriers have also transited the new locks.

“Thus far, 15 Neopanamax liner services have redirected service to the Panama Canal to take advantage of all that the Expansion offers, and we expect even more to come in 2017,” Argelis Moreno de Ducreux, the Panama Canal’s Senior International Trade Specialist, said.

“As liners continue to reroute services and consolidate cargo on larger vessels, we look forward to welcoming the increase of Neopanamax traffic,” Jorge L. Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator, said.

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