Panama Canal Dismisses ITF Claims

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 30, 2016

Image:  Brazil’s Fundação Homem de Mar (FHM)

Image: Brazil’s Fundação Homem de Mar (FHM)

 The Panama Canal has dismisses claims by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) that questions industry standards and the operation of the Expanded Panama Canal’s new locks.

Claims made by ITF that new locks built for the Panama Canal expansion will be unsafe in operation have been strongly rejected by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) as lacking scientific accuracy and credibility.  
Following the publication of an ITF-commissioned study, Peter Pusztai Panama, Canal Pilot Training Coordinator, said: “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.”
ITF commissioned the study after its Panamanian member unions raised serious concerns to the union group centered around ACP's refusal to engage in dialogue on matters such as training, as well as technical and construction issues that have led to delays in the $5.3 billion project.
The study, which was carried out by Brazil’s Fundação Homem de Mar (FHM), was based on mathematical conclusions derived from simulations conducted in maneuvering simulator using a scale model of the new locks, a typical Neopanamax vessel and the planned configuration of two tugboats under various environmental conditions, according to the ITF. 
The study recommended that a complete risk analysis and special training should be carried out to avoid any accidents that might result in loss of life or pollution. 
The Panama Canal spent nearly 10 years to methodically and professionally evaluate and analyze 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.
The much delayed expansion of the canal has had more than its fair share of bad news tales in recent years.
Last year, the Panama Canal invested $3m to upgrade its Centre for Simulation, Research and Maritime Development (SIDMA) and has also invested $8m to upgrade its Scale Model Manoeuvring Training Facility. 
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