The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced an increase of the maximum authorized draft for ships voyaging through the Neopanamax Locks to 48 ft, or 14.63 meters, effective July 25.
Previously the maximum draft was set at 47 ft, or 14.33 meters, and was put into effect July 8. As of July 25, vessels with drafts over 48 ft may be allowed to transit depending on the actual level of the Gatun Lake, or will be required to off-load cargo in order to transit.
The ACP said in its July 24 announcement that future draft adjustments would be made in a timely manner as it continues to monitor the water level of the Gatun Lake.
Aframax and Long Range 2 vessels, which have a maximum draft of 14.9 meters when fully laden, will not be able to transit the Neopanamax locks at the 14.63 meter restriction.
Suezmaxes, when fully laden, cannot transit the canal at a 45.5 ft draft, as tankers of this class usually require a 50 ft draft for a full 1 million barrel cargo of 43 API crude.
For dry bulk, Neopanamax and Capesize ships cannot transit the canal at the current 13.87 meter draft, as they require maximum drafts of 15 meters and 20 meters, respectively.
Clean Medium Range and LR1 tankers, dirty Panamax tankers and all LNG tanker classes can transit fully laden at the restricted 48 ft draft.
Handysize, Supramax and Ultramax, and Panamax size dry bulk carriers, with maximum drafts of 10 meters, 11 meters and 12 meters, respectively, will be able to pass through the restricted 14.63 meters maximum draft.
For container ships steaming on the North Asia to US East Coast route, all ships except for the Neopanamax class, which typically draws a draft of 49.9 feet when laden with 10,000 to 14,500 twenty-foot equivalent boxes, can transit the Panama Canal.