The Panama Canal authority (ACP) says a Chinese container ship’s damaging scrape with the canal’s new wider locks was caused by bad weather, Reuter quotes ACP's administrator, Jorge Quijano.
He said that the only problem in the last month involved a China Shipping Container Lines ship, the Xin Fei Zhou, and it was due to intense rainfall and wind and the vessel not lining up correctly.
Quijano says it was the only such incident in the widened canal’s first month of operation. He says unfortunately these things happen in their business.
According to AP, before the canal’s inauguration, some tug boat captains expressed concern about having relatively little room to maneuver with the huge New Panamax ships. The $5.4 billion canal extension, which allows much larger ships to traverse the canal, opened on June 26.
Reuters reported on Monday that the Xin Fei Zhou hit the wall of the canal, and that in the last month, there have been incidents involving two other ships.
Lycaste Peace was the first ship that had a collision in the canal. The ship is an LPG tanker that ripped a fender while passing through.
Another vessel, the Cosco Shipping Panama
, a container ship, also damaged its fenders. Offcials from the canal authority said this incident was "normal."
According to a study made by the International Transport Workers' Federation, the dimensions of the new locks are too small for the size of the vessels. This meant that the margin of error was too small.
The expansion was criticized by members of the shipping industry, who said that the Canal's new lane was flawed and will put vessels at risk.
Quijano minimized the importance of the other incidents, saying "scratches" sometimes occur and explaining that the ACP has a $5 million annual budget to address damages.
The events could stir doubts about the canal's design since some experts say larger ships have too little maneuvering space, which the ACP denies.