By Mark Edward Nero
Less than nine months after the inauguration of the expansion of the Panama Canal, the waterway has welcomed its 1,000th Neo-Panamax vessel.
On Sunday, March 19, Mediterranean Shipping Co.’s containership MSC Anzu made the historic 1,000th transit through the expanded canal, heading northbound from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The Panama-flagged containership, which was built in 2015, measures about 300 meters (984 feet) in length and 48.23 meters (157 feet) in beam with a carrying capacity of over 9,000 TEUs.
The 1000th transit marked a significant milestone for the Expanded Canal, which is experiencing a steady flow of traffic – including containerships, liquid petroleum gas vessels and liquefied natural gas vessels. Other segments like dry bulk carriers, vehicle carriers and crude product tankers have also transited through the expanded canal, according to the Panama Canal Authority, the government of Panama agency charged with managing, operating and maintaining the canal.
According to the same source, as of March 2017, the average number of Neo-Panamax vessels transiting the new lane per day is 5.9. In February, the Panama Canal set a new daily tonnage record of 1.18 million tons after welcoming a total of 1,180 vessels through both the expanded and original locks. The previous records were established in December 2016 and January 2017, when the waterway set monthly tonnage records for transiting 35.4 million tons and 36.1 million tons, respectively.