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Panama Canal increases vessel size limits

The Panama Canal has increased the maximum allowable length for vessels transiting the Neopanamax Locks.

Since 21 May, the maximum length overall (LOA) for commercial and non-commercial vessels acceptable for regular transits of the Neopanamax Locks is 370.33 meters, up from 367.28 meters.

The increase means that now 96.8% of the world’s fleet of container ships can transit the Panama Canal, shortening routes and benefiting economies around the world, according to the Panama Canal Authority.

“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, according to a statement.

The Panama Canal has made a series of trial transits to confirm the safety of operations, with Evergreen Triton passing the canal in 2019 and breaking the record for the largest vessel in dimension and container capacity to ever transit the Panama Canal. The container vessels Talos and Theseus have also transited the waterway, as part of the trials.

In addition to this increased length overall, the Canal has announced that it is now offering a 15.24 meters draft, the highest level allowed at the waterway. Increased rainfall and successful water management at Gatun Lake had kept the draft at 14.93 meters since April 2021.

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