New Panama Canal – Readiness of Post-Panamax ships

Every year nearly 13000-14000 vessels are passing Panama Canal. Post Panamax vessels of the size of 4000TEU to 8000TEU of beam more than 32.2 meters are not able to pass the existing canal, there are around 37% world container fleet (as per 2011) which cannot pass through existing canal due to her size. Besides allowing passing of bigger sized vessel it will offer economy of scale to shippers. How ever present Post Panamax vessels would not be able pass new panama canal wirthout certain modifications to comply with new panama canal regulations that we have discussed later, first we discuss some facts about canal. Some facts related to New Panama Canal are;

  • Why New Panama Canal was required? – volume of cargo is growing by 3% each year, in 20 years, from 2005 to 2025 the volume will be doubled.
  • New Panama Canal work was started by USA in 1939 but left in 1942 due to WWII.
  • About 37% of world container fleet cannot pass through old panama canal.
  • Good news for retailers and brand managers in East coat of USA, Canada & South American countries.
  • Port congestion in West coast of USA, Canada and South America will moderate.
  • There is concern that new Canal may cause greater trade imbalance with China who is the biggest exporter of all kind of garments, hardware, electronics, spare parts of the motor and machinery.
  • New canal doesnot involve pump for lock operation so it is energy efficient.
  • Commercial operation starting from 1st April 2016.
  • Post panama vessels will still navigate in single direction due to bottle neck at Culebra Cut in the way.

Panama canal Old vs NewOut of these post panamax vessels most of the vessels upto beam 49meters would be able to pass through new Panama Canal. However these vessels mooring arrangement need to be modified if they should pass new canal.  The new canal has new mooring requirement which all vessels has to comply, old post panamax with conventional mooring arrangement has to be retrofitted with new mooring arrangement on deck. Special requirement of construction, Number, and Location of Chocks and Bitts – Fitting need to be upgraded to 90T SWL or to be installed new. All chocks will be double chocks with a minimum opening of 900square centimetres (preferable opening 355x255mm). Additional tugboat chocks fitted in the bow and stern, vessel with large flare require to provide closed chokes, the use of existing roller chokes to be evaluated during transit. More details are provided in the OP’s Notice to Shipping No. N-1-2013 (Rev 1), “Vessel Requirements.” Mooring requirement Rajshree Aditya's photo.Modification work for existing post panamax

vessels – The new canal is expected to open 1Q of 2016, shipowners have started modification of post panama vessels to comply with new requirement. Modification of mooring arrangement requires not only additional chockes and bitts on deck, but also the additional strengthening of the underdeck and surrounding area of the chocks and bitts. The required calculation and design can be provided by naval architects after reviewing the deck structure plan and mooring arrangements. These retrofittings can be done during voyage or in drydock subjected to scope of work.

Additional cost for retrofitting new vessel –

To pass through new canal, ship owners has modify their vessels, these are bit expensive affair and needs some time. As an estimation, a post panama 300meter long vessel has to retrofit below;

  1. Removal of old mooring bits
  2. Buying and transporting new Mooring bits and bollards of higher SWL as per new regulation
  3. Fitting of these on Deck
  4. Strengthening of underside of deck where new mooring bits and bollards are fitted.

An estimated expenses of this retrofit in China Shipyard is as below;

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Panama canal 2017

Panama canal view in 2017

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Panama canal view in 2017

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Panama Canal Lock gate 2017

Panama Canal lock – Ship waiting to move out

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Categories: Navigation, Regulations

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2 replies

  1. Reblogged this on MarinerOnBoard – Onboard & Ashore and commented:

    Some interesting facts about New Panama canal? Why was it required?

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