Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Expanded Panama Canal Sees One Thousandth Transit with Passage of Container Ship

9,000 TEU Neopanamax MSC Vessel Marks Milestone in Under 9 Months
Shipping News Feature
PANAMA – Less than nine months after the historic inauguration of the Expanded Canal, the Panama Canal has welcomed its 1,000th Neopanamax vessel through the waterway. On March 19, a containership from the world’s second largest box freight line, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) made the historic 1,000th transit through the Expanded Canal, heading northbound from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

The two year old, Chinese built MSC Anzu is flagged in Panama and measures 300 metres in length and 48 metres across the beam with a carrying capacity of just over 9,000 TEUs. During its transit, the ship called at Panamanian port terminals on the Pacific and Atlantic to discharge and load cargo on the way to her final destinations. The container ship is part of the SAWC-USA-NWC service between Europe, the United States and the South America West Coast that was consolidated last year precisely to take advantage of the expanded waterway. Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano, said:

"[This] transit represents a considerable milestone, marking the industry's strong adoption of the Expanded Canal and its successful operations thus far."

The 1000th transit demonstrates that the upgraded canal is experiencing a steady flow of traffic which includes container ships, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels. Other segments like dry bulk carriers, vehicle carriers, and crude product tankers have also transited through since the expansion.

The container segment however accounts for nearly half the transits through the Expanded Canal and represents its principal source of traffic. LNG vessels began transiting the waterway last July for the first time when this latest market segment Canal saw new trade possibilities open up.

With traffic at the waterway continuing to increase with each passing month, the Canal management has also announced that it will launch a state-of-the-art vessel scheduling and maritime resource management system to further optimise customers costs, improve safety and increase the overall efficiency and reliability of the service it provides.

The system aims to transform how the Panama Canal plans and schedules transit operations. For the first time, the Canal will be able to execute a completely integrated operating plan for all of its critical resources, including tugboats, pilots and line handlers. By improving situational awareness and by having more accurate data, the new system should allow for better decision-making, which in turn could help mitigate operational risk. The new system will be fully integrated into Canal operations over the course of the next two years, with the module responsible for managing the Canal's vessel scheduling expected to be operational by the end of the fiscal year in September 2017.