New Locks at Panama Canal Unlock Shipping

August 21, 2018
New Locks at Panama Canal Unlock Shipping

The opening of the new locks for the Panama Canal is impacting shipping.  Recently, the 4,000th ship passed through the new locks that opened a little over 2 years ago.

The old locks allowed a Panamax ship to pass through the locks.  A Panamax ship has a maximum Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT) of 52,500.  The new locks allow a Neopanamax ship to pass through with a maximum DWT of 120,000.

Many container ships, and LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) tankers could not fit through the old locks.  The new locks will allow Neopanamax ships to save considerable time and fuel by using the Panama Canal.


Video Spotlight: LNG tanker registers 4000th Neopanamax transit through Panama Canal


This post is based on the editorial post at Port Technology.org, 4,000th Vessel Passes through New Panama Canal, July 31, 2018; and the YouTube video, LNG tanker registers 4000th Neopanamax transit through Panama Canal, by Panama Canal, July 30, 2018. Image source: Lissa Harrison.

Discussion Questions:

1.  How are the new locks impacting shipping?

Guidance: Take a look at a world map and you can quickly see the important of the Panama Canal.  Using the Panama Canal can save ships a large amount of time and fuel by not having to go around the South American continent.  For example, with the opening of the new Cove Point LNG terminal off the coast of Maryland, ships from this port can take LNG through the Panama Canal to Japan, which makes this trip economically feasible.

2. What types of goods will benefit from the new locks?

Guidance: The main types of ships that will be going through the locks will be container ships and LNG tankers.  Currently, fifty percent of the volume is container ships, with the fastest growing segment LNG.  Items that are large or heavy and not of high value will be the most likely items to go through the Panama Canal.  Container ships and LNG fall in this category.  High value, perishable items will generally use other types of transportation.  For example, cut flowers from Hawaii will go by air.  They will not be impacted by the new locks.

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