Friday, April 29, 2016

Panama Canal Insists Safety is Paramount for All Vessels in Transit Through Expanded Waterway

Authority Firmly Rebuts Union Claims
Shipping News Feature
PANAMA – The claims made by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) that the training given and the techniques used in the operation of the new Panama Canal expansion were inadequate were fully explained in our recent story. Now the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has issued a full rebuttal of the union’s objections and stated that the transit for even the largest container and bulk freight vessels permitted will be entirely safe. We publish the full statement here.

"The Panama Canal dismisses recent claims by the ITF that questions industry standards and the operation of the Expanded Panama Canal’s new locks. ITF’s claims in a recently released document are not based on mathematical models and do not include data from physical navigation tests as that been done in preparation for operations in the Expanded Canal. It therefore lacks scientific accuracy and credibility. In addition, the authors have not transited through the Panama Canal and are not trained to do so."

The Panama Canal spent nearly 10 years to methodically and professionally evaluate and analyse the design of the Expanded Panama Canal’s locks. This process included conducting internal and external studies to determine how the new locks should operate. After this in-depth process, the Panama Canal made the informed decision to embrace the industry standard of using up to four tugs to navigate ships. Outside industry experts concluded that the ACP’s decision was correct. Captain Peter Pusztai, Panama Canal Pilot Training Coordinator said:

"We commend all who have been involved in this project over the past 10 years. The ITF’s claims are unproven and contain many errors. Despite their false claims, we look forward to transforming the maritime industry through the opening of the Expanded Panama Canal."

"The Panama Canal reiterated that it is proud of investment in and preparation for the opening of the Expanded Canal on June 26 and its painstaking attention to detail to ensure the safe, reliable and efficient transits. In 2015 alone, the Panama Canal invested more than $3 million to upgrade its Center for Simulation, Research and Maritime Development (SIDMAR) with additional rigorous mathematical models to further train pilots and tugboat captains to operate within the expanded locks.

"Additionally, the Panama Canal has invested more than $8 million in the Scale Model Manoeuvring Training Facility, which complements simulation training received at SIDMAR and is devoted to ship handling and hands-on training to scale. This innovative 35.3-acre training facility features docking bays, replicas of the new and existing locks, gates, and chambers, all at a 1:25 scale to provide Pilots and Tugboat Captains with the in-depth, hands-on-training needed to safely and efficiently transit Neopanamax vessels through the Expanded Panama Canal."

More information can be found HERE.