Looking forward to the fifth anniversary of the Panama Canal expansion, the Panama Canal Authority has announced an increase in the maximum permissible length of the commercial and non-commercial vessels transiting the Neo Panamax locks.
Since May 2021, the maximum permissible length of vessels which can transit the Canal has been increased from 367.28 m (1,205 feet) to 370.33m (1,215 feet). This means, now approximately 96.8 percent of the world’s fleet can Transit the Panama Canal. This would result in shortening of routes and contribute to the saving of bunker costs around the world.
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The news was announced after a series of safe transit operations at Neo Panamax locks. Since the inauguration of the Neo Panamax locks in 2016, the 369 meter (1,210 feet) long Evergreen Triton was the largest vessel, in terms of dimensions and capacity (14,424 TEU) to transit the Panama Canal. After the transit of the Evergreen Triton in 2019, other vessels, with similar dimensions and capacity have also transited the Canal. Some examples of which being the Evergreen Talos and Thesus, they too has a capacity of approximately 14,000 TEU.
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In addition to this, the Panama Canal is now offering a 15.24 m (50 feet) draft (which was previously of 14.93 meters (49 feet). These new changes would shorten the voyage of large vessels since they can now utilize the Panama Canal. This would reduce fuel consumption as-well-as production of greenhouse gases and contribute to sustainability efforts in the maritime industry.