The Panama Canal has celebrated 102 years of successful operations and service to the global maritime community, just one day after welcoming its one-hundredth transit through the expanded waterway.
Less than two months following the Expanded Canal’s historic June 26 inauguration, the Neopanamax vessel Hanjin Xiamen became the hundredth vessel to transit the new locks, passing through the canal on the morning of Sunday August 14, 2016.
The Panama-flagged containership made its northbound transit from the Pacific to Atlantic Ocean, destined for New York.
To ensure the continued reliability of the canal over the past 102 years, constant maintenance of the original locks has been crucial.
For that reason, the Panama Canal has invested more than US$3.3 billion in improvements of the original waterway in the past 17 years.
Some of these investments include upgrades to its locomotive fleet and tracks, the installation of new tie-up and mooring stations to allow additional Panamax vessels to transit, and the deepening of all of the lake channels, increasing draft reliability.
Jorge L. Quijano, CEO and Administrator of the Panama Canal, said: “All of these investments were carried out with the purpose of providing greater reliability, safety and improved transit times.
“After 102 years, the Panama Canal is rejuvenated thanks to the beginning of operations of the expanded canal, ongoing maintenance of its original infrastructure, and the commitment of its workforce of 10,000 talented men and women who make this route one of the main arteries of world maritime trade.”
Since its inauguration, the expanded Panama Canal has received more than 297 reservations—a figure which continues to grow daily, reflecting the shipping industry’s confidence in the canal and the impact it will have on the future of world maritime trade.
Upon completing their passage of the expanded canal Sunday, three of the four ships that transited the waterway called at Panamanian port terminals on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to discharge and load cargo on the way to their final destinations, thus making full use of the connectivity offered by the country.
Mr Quijano said: “This is a trend which we expect to continue as the Panama Canal continues to invest in and solidify its position as the shipping and logistics hub of the Americas.”