On July 3, 2003, a record 24 Panamax-sized vessels transited the Panama Canal
. Nearly one million tons of cargo were transported through the Canal. Never before has the Canal broken two significant records in the same day. Recent Canal improvements and operational efficiencies have reduced Canal Waters Time
(CWT), particularly important to transiting Panamax vessels and enhancing reliability. Over the past several months, the ACP has seen a significant rise in Panamax traffic.
The previous Panamax record was 21 vessels in one day, set December 2, 2002; the previous tonnage record was 929,915 PC/UMS tons, set November 14, 2002. Panamax vessels, with beams more than 100 feet, were specifically engineered to navigate the Panama Canal
. Piloting one of these enormous vessels through the Canal and lock chambers rapidly and safely is a demanding task.
"Day in and day out, everyone at the ACP strives to make the Canal more efficient, safe and reliable. All of this hard work is paying off as we set new standards, raising the bar for excellence and increasing capacity. These records are a credit to our exceptional personnel - our traffic schedulers, pilots, line handlers, locomotive operators, tugboat and launch crews and many others," said Canal Administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta.
Recent improvements in Canal efficiency are the result of the ACP's permanent modernization program, with projects such as: the widening of the Gaillard Cut, the acquisition of new locomotives and the rehabilitation of the locomotive tracks, the implementation of a sophisticated navigation system - AIS, the addition of new tugboats and the deepening of Gatun Lake
. As the permanent modernization program continues, efficiency increases and CWT plunges, which leads to increased capacity.