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Focus on Panama

Maersk resuming Panama Canal transits for US East Coast service

Photo: Hutchison Ports Maersk vessel calling at Balboa
Maersk is reinstating Panama Canal transit for an Australia – US East Coast service as restrictions ease at the key waterway.

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) recently introduced additional transit slots per day to 27, up from 24 in December 2023 as water levels improved.

Maersk split the Oceania – North America East Coast (OC1) service into two in January using a rail connection to move cargo across the Panama isthmus.

The Danish shipping line announced it will reinstate the Panama Canal transit on its OC1 service effective 10 May 2024 dropping the rail-land bridge link. The current “two-loop” setup established with the Panama Rail connection, which will be phased out by the end of May.

The OC1 service will return to a rotation of Philadelphia -Charleston - Panama Canal - Balboa -Tauranga -Sydney -Melbourne -Port Chalmers -Tauranga -Panama Canal- Manzanillo -Cristobal -Cartagena.

Since its locks were expanded, the Panama Canal had capacity for 34 to 38 daily transits, however last year ACP sharply reduced the number of transits due to low water levels, as the country experienced one of its driest years, attributed to the El Nino phenomenon.