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Panama Canal : Extending Maximum Length Overall and Increases Draft for Neopanamax Locks

The waterway begins to accommodate vessels up to 370.33 meters in maximum length overall and announces a 15.24-meter (50-foot) draft ahead of the expansion’s fifth anniversary
Ahead of the fifth anniversary of its expansion, the Panama Canal has increased the maximum allowable length for vessels transiting the Neopanamax Locks. Since May 21, the maximum length overall (LOA) for commercial and non-commercial vessels acceptable for regular transits of the Neopanamax Locks is 370.33 meters (1,215 feet), up from 367.28 meters (1,205 feet).

The increase means that now 96.8% of the world’s fleet of containerships can transit the Panama Canal, shortening routes and benefiting economies around the world
This change was made possible by our team’s experience operating the Neopanamax Locks safely and reliably over the past five years,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. 
The extended LOA will provide shipping lines with greater flexibility in making decisions for the deployment and construction of vessels with greater capacity that can transit through the Panama Canal.
This announcement comes after a series of trial transits to confirm the safety of operations. They included the 2019 transit of Evergreen’s 369-meter-long (1,210 feet) Triton, which became the largest vessel in dimension and container cargo capacity to transit the Panama Canal since the inauguration of the Neopanamax Locks in June 2016. Since then, other ships with the same dimensions and container cargo capacity have also transited the waterway, including the Talos and Theseus, among others.
In addition to this increased length overall, the Canal has announced that it is now offering 15.24 meters (50 feet) draft, the highest level allowed at the waterway. Increased rainfall and successful water management at Gatun Lake had kept the
The Panama Canal’s efforts go beyond its operational updates. Given the shorter traveling distance and larger capacity it offers, the Canal reduces vessels’ fuel consumption and therefore emissions, having a positive impact on the reduction of global greenhouse gases compared to other routes.
In addition, the Canal is focused on reducing its own carbon footprint, establishing a roadmap to become a carbon-neutral entity by the end of the decade, while maintaining its commitment to participate in environmental efforts in the maritime industry worldwide.

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About Dr. Ricaurte Vásquez Morales

Dr. Vásquez has more than 30 years in financial and international capital market management, financial consulting, and the public sector. He served as Minister for Canal Affairs and Chairman of Panama Canal Board of Directors (2004-2006), deputy administrator (2000-2004), and finance director (1996-2000) for the waterway.
He was responsible for the financial transition of the Panama Canal to Panamanian administration, in full compliance with the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties, including the closure of operations of the Panama Canal Commission, the United States federal agency responsible for the administration and operation of the Canal until noon on December 31, 1999.
He also served in public administration as Minister of Planning and Economic Policy, Minister of Economy and Finance, and Chief Debt Negotiator for the Refinancing Program of the Republic of Panama.
In the private sector, he held several positions at General Electric between 2008 and 2015, including executive director, vice president, and CEO for Central America and the Caribbean.
Dr. Vásquez has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Villanova University, in Villanova, Pennsylvania, a Master of Science in Operations Research and Statistics and a Ph.D. in Managerial Economics from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the United States, and a Master’s in Economics from North Carolina State University in the United States. He was an Associate Professor of Economics at Florida State University – Panama Campus.
Source: Panama Canal Authority

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