Since its inauguration, the Expanded Panama Canal’s performance has exceeded expectations, setting monthly and daily tonnage records, attracting 15 new liner services, and welcoming an average of six Neopanamax daily transits when forecasts originally anticipated two to three transits a day for its first year of operation. In fact, among the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) segment, a first for the waterway, 5.2 LNG vessels transit the Canal per week on average, above the original forecast of one weekly transit. It is precisely because of the planning, preparation, training, and added capacity that the Panama Canal put into place before the inauguration that has enabled its Expanded Canal to accommodate this unexpected growth in traffic.
The impact of this strong performance has been reflected in other parts of the world as well, principally in the ports of the East Coast of the United States, which are in various stages of deepening and expanding their channels to meet the growing number of Neopanamax vessels now transiting the Canal. As was the case for the Panama Canal, January 2017 was also a record month for several ports on the U.S. East Coast, including Charleston, Philadelphia, and Savannah, which recorded respective volume growths of 28, 34 and 16 percent. By next month, the Expanded Canal will receive the first of the 13,000-plus TEU container ships – part of one of the newly re-routed liner services to the Canal – which will call in the ports of Virginia, Charleston, and Savannah and be the largest to ever reach those terminals.
Overseeing a fleet of 46 tugboats, the Panama Canal has more than adequate resources to attend the current operations of the waterway and meet the industry’s demand. As the industry continues to increasingly rely on the safe and efficient service provided by the new locks, so too will the Panama Canal continue to take steps to improve productivity and ensure it maintains the resources and capacity necessary to meet this growing demand.
Source: Panama Canal