The Panama Canal Authority has welcomed the 1,000th Neopanamax vessel through the waterway, less than nine months after the inauguration of the Expanded Canal.
On Sunday, March 19, the container ship Mediterranean Shipping Company's MSC Anzu made the historic 1,000th transit through the Expanded Canal, heading northbound from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
Built in 2015, 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.
The container segment accounts for nearly half the transits through the Expanded Canal and represents its principal source of traffic. Fifty-three percent of container ship 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.
So far, 13 Neopanamax liner services have been deployed through the new locks, primarily on the U.S. East Coast to Asia trade route. And on April 1, two additional Neopanamax liner services are expected to follow, bringing the total liner services to 15 – further demonstrating the benefits of the waterway.
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 similarly witnessed record tonnage months, including the Ports of Charleston, Philadelphia and Savannah, which experienced record container volume growths in January of this year.
LNG vessels began transiting the waterway last July for the first time after the Canal opened trade possibilities for this new market segment. So far, 5.2 LNG vessels have transited the Canal per week on average, above the original forecast of one weekly transit.
In February 2017, the Panama Canal set a new daily tonnage record of 1.18 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS) after welcoming a total of 1,180 vessels through both the Expanded and original locks. The previous records were established in December 2016 and January 2017, when the waterway set monthly tonnage records for transiting 35.4 million PC/UMS and 36.1 million PC/UMS, respectively.