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Friday, July 30, 2021

Panama Canal Extends Max Length, Increases Draft for Neopanamax Locks

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

June 15, 2021

(Photo: Panama Canal Authority)

(Photo: Panama Canal Authority)

The Panama Canal has increased the maximum allowable length for vessels transiting the Neopanamax Locks. Since May 21, the maximum length overall (LOA) for commercial and noncommercial vessels acceptable for regular transits of the Neopanamax Locks is 370.33 meters (1,215 feet), up from 367.28 meters (1,205 feet).

The increase, which comes nearly five years after the canal's expansion, means that now 96.8% of the world’s fleet of containerships can transit the Panama Canal.  

“This change was made possible by our team’s experience operating the Neopanamax Locks safely and reliably over the past five years,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales.

The extended LOA will provide shipping lines with greater flexibility in making decisions for the deployment and construction of vessels with greater capacity that can transit through the Panama Canal.

This announcement comes after a series of trial transits to confirm the safety of operations. They included the 2019 transit of Evergreen's 369-meter-long (1,210 feet) Triton, which became the largest vessel in dimension and container cargo capacity to transit the Panama Canal since the inauguration of the Neopanamax Locks in June 2016. Since then, other ships with the same dimensions and container cargo capacity have also transited the waterway, including the Talos and Theseus, among others.

In addition to this increased length overall, the Canal has announced that it is now offering 15.24 meters (50 feet) draft, the highest level allowed at the waterway. Increased rainfall and successful water management at the Gatun Lake had kept the draft at 14.93 meters (49 feet) since April 2021.

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