Wednesday, May 4, 2016

As Panama Canal Prepares to Fully Open for Business Container Vessel Wins Draw for First Transit

Waterway Gears Up for Traffic
Shipping News Feature
PANAMA – Newly formed China COSCO Shipping has won the draw which we publicised last month, for the first transit through the Expanded Panama Canal during the waterway's inauguration on Sunday, June 26. The shipping line's 9,400 TEU container vessel Andronikos, which measures 8.25 metres in beam and 299.98 metres in length, will be making the inaugural transit. Panama Canal Administrator, Jorge L. Quijano, said:

"It is a great honour to have one of our top customers celebrate this historical moment with us. We are excited and prepared to continue providing the same reliable and efficient service within the Expanded Panama Canal that our customers have come to expect through the years."

The Norwegian/Swedish shipping line Wallenius Wilhemsen Lines (WWL) and the Chinese shipping line China COSCO Shipping were included in the draw for first and runner up spots. WWL participated with the car carrier Thalatta which has a maximum capacity of 8,000 CEUs (car equivalent units), measuring 36.5 metres in beam and 199.97 metres in length.

The draw was carried out with ballots labelled with the name of each participant. Directly following the announcement, a second ballot was chosen for the shipping line, in this case WWL, that will deploy a vessel for the inaugural transit in the event that the winner informs the Panama Canal by May 10 that it will not be able to deploy an approved vessel.

The Panama Canal invited its top customers to participate in the draw. Of the invited customers, those interested in participating were required to indicate the Neopanamax vessel's name, type and dimensions that it planned to deploy on the inauguration day of the Expanded Canal.

The Executive Vice Presidency for Operations verified that each submission complied with the Panama Canal's requirements. The proposed vessels were required to not surpass a maximum beam of 49 metres and a maximum overall length of 366 metres. In addition, the maximum draft or point of immersion for the inaugural transit is 12.5 metres. Last month, the Panama Canal began accepting transit bookings for Neopanamax vessels for commercial transits through the Expanded Canal, which will begin on June 27, 2016. The Canal will offer four additional slots per day for Neopanamax vessels, in addition to the existing 25 slots for the existing Canal. More than 100 Neopanamax ships have already made reservations for commercial transit through the new locks.

The first commercial transit reservation was granted to a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker Linden Pride of Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line), represented by shipping agent Norton Lilly International (Panama). The vessel has a length of 229.9 metres and a beam of 36.6 metres.

Photo: The Centennial Bridge at night.