Less than nine months after the historic inauguration of the expanded Panama Canal, managers have announced that the 1000th Neopanamax vessel has passed through the waterway, highlighting the importance of the route and customers’ continued faith in the safe, efficient service the Canal provides.
On Sunday, March 19, the containership Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC Anzu made the historic transit through the expanded canal, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The Panama-flagged containership measures 299.98 meters in length and 48.23 meters in beam with a carrying capacity of 9,008 TEUs. During its transit, the ship called at Panamanian port terminals on the Pacific and Atlantic to discharge and load cargo on the way to its final destinations. The container ship is part of the SAWC-USA-NWC service between Europe, the United States and the South America West Coast that was consolidated last year to take advantage of the expanded Panama Canal.
Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said, “Today’s transit represents a considerable milestone, marking the industry’s strong adoption of the expanded Canal and its successful operations thus far.”
The container segment accounts for nearly half the transits through the Canal and represents its principal source of traffic. Fifty-three percent of containership cargo transiting the waterway does so using the expanded Canal. As of March 2017, the average number of Neopanamax vessels transiting the new lane per day is 5.9.
“Although the full impact will be felt gradually over time, we’re very encouraged by the success of the expanded Canal thus far as trade patterns continue to shift in favour of the route,” said Panama Canal’s Executive Vice President of Planning and Business Development, Oscar Bazan.
Ports around the world, and in particular along the U.S. East Coast, have already expanded or are in the process of deepening and widening their channels to accommodate the influx of Neopanamax vessel traffic due to the expansion. Many of these ports have witnessed record tonnage months, including the Ports of Charleston, Philadelphia and Savannah, which experienced record container volume growths in January of this year.
Image: MSC Anzu in the new Panama Canal