Web Alert: Recent developments on the Panama Canal Expansion

News & Insights 21 June 2016


As previously reported, the inauguration of the Panama Canal Expansion has been scheduled for Sunday 26 June 2016. The Panama Canal announced that the maximum allowable draft for vessels transiting the new locks as of 27 June will be 13.11 m (43.0 feet) Tropical Fresh Water (TFW).

As previously reported, the inauguration of the Panama Canal Expansion has been scheduled for Sunday 26 June 2016.  The Panama Canal announced that the maximum allowable draft for vessels transiting the new locks as of 27 June will be 13.11 m (43.0 feet) Tropical Fresh Water (TFW).  Intercargo have advised that, in the long term, the new Panama Canal Locks will be able to accommodate an 180,000-185,000 DWT Capesize, but only if it is in ballast or partially loaded with 120,000-130,000 metric tonnes of cargo, given the maximum canal draft of 15.2m.

Further to the inauguration of the Panama Canal Expansion, the Canal will arrange a Safe Boarding Week from 4 until 8 July 2016, to emphasise and encourage safe boarding pra\ctices on vessels transiting the Canal.

Intercargo has advised that Panama Canal officials will board vessels at both Cristobal and Balboa anchorages to inspect their boarding facility arrangements.  Vessel masters will be provided with the results of the inspection and those vessels deserving special recognition for excellence will be presented with plaques following the inspection.  Vessels with boarding facilities below acceptable standards must correct the deficiencies prior to transit.

In addition, Intercargo has also reported that the new locks will allow Panamaxes to be loaded to their maximum drafts at US grain terminals.  Terminals in the lower Mississippi River, the port of New Orleans and the Southwest Pass have drafts of 13.7-14.3 m, whereas the pre-expansion locks only allow for a draft of 12.04 m.  As a result, Panamaxes can only be partially loaded to transit through the original locks.  This should improve with the new locks. 

Finally, Intercargo asked the Panama Canal Authorities to advise on whether those bulk carriers which already have the Panama Canal certificate for the original locks will be able to use the new locks if there is congestion at the old locks and whether they will require any modification to their mooring arrangements, fairleads, rollers, or their certification.  We will report on the replies once Intercargo hears back from the Panama Canal Authorities. 

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