Yesterday, December 20 2016, saw the Panama Canal make way for its largest visitor yet. The 10,589 TEU Valparaiso Express.
The massive Neopanamax containership was specifically built to take advantage of the greater capacity offered by the Expanded Panama Canal and this passage signifies the arrival of the new-era of megaships that are set to become a common sight through updated canal. AJOT reported that the vessel began its transit at the Pacific-facing Cocoli Locks. After this stop the ship is set to stop at Manzanillo International Terminal in Panama and will then continue its route to terminals in the Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
The new locks, which are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than those in the original Canal, are able to accommodate Neopanamax vessels carrying up to 13,000 to 14,000 TEUS.
— Panama Canal (@thepanamacanal) December 20, 2016
The Valparaiso Express, which was given a formal naming ceremony by Hapag-Lloyd, has 333m length overall and beam of 48m. It is the first of Hapag-Lloyd’s new 10,500 TEUclass which are all looking to capitalise on the additional space provided by the new Panama Canal. The other four of Hapag-Lloyds vessels are due to be completed in 2017.
Despite being a behemoth, the neopanamax containership was constructed with the environment in mind. The Valparaiso Express has an environmentally friendly landside shore connection, which allows the auxiliary diesels on board to be switched off while in port. In addition, the vessel features a fuel-efficient 46,530-horsepower main engine with an emissions-reducing valve control, and ballast water treatment units on board that are in accordance with the new International Ballast Water Management Convention, which purify the ship’s ballast water without using dangerous chemicals.
In response to the Panama Canal expansion US ports are considering their own widening projects to accommodate larger panamax vessels.