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Panama Canal outlines dawn of new panamax era

Hong Kong: The Panama Canal Authority has issued a circular to all agents, owners and operators, seen by Seatrade Asia Online, outlining the precise details of the new locks under construction and by extension the dimensions for the next era of panamax ships.
The expansion program, which will nearly double the canal's tonnage capacity, consists of the construction of two new lock complexes, one on the Pacific and one on the Atlantic side of the waterway, in order to provide a third lock lane capable of handling vessels of greater beams, lengths and drafts.  The program also entails the widening and deepening of existing navigational channels in Gatun Lake, Culebra Cut, and the Pacific and Atlantic Entrance Channels.
Each of the new lock complexes will have three chambers, and each chamber will have water-saving basins that will permit the reutilization of up to 60% of the water  employed in the lockage of a vessel.  The chamber dimensions of the new locks will be 427  meters long, 55 meters wide and 18.3 meters deep.  The corresponding maximum dimensions for vessels that will transit these locks are 366 meters LOA, 49 meters in beam and 15.2 meters in tropical freshwater (TFW) draft.  These dimensions are being used to define the New Panamax size vessel.
 When the expansion is completed in 2014, the navigational channels will allow the transit of present post-Panamax containerships; Suezmax liquid-bulk tankers; Capesize dry-bulk carriers; and larger sizes of liquefied natural gas carriers, passenger ships and other vessel types within  the established dimensional limits identified above.
Details on the Panama Canal Expansion Program are available on the Panama Canal website at www.pancanal.com.  [20/01/08]


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