NOW that the expanded Panama Canal is open, operators are expected to deploy 8,000-TEU ships or above with a number of lines having already put such plans in place.
Larger ships may follow when US east coast sea and aircraft problems are solved. Whether that results in switching from the old Asia-US west coast-east coast "landbridge" to the "all water" route via Panama remains to be seen, says Clarksons Research.
Based on the official neopanamax dimensions, the new locks will allow 13,500-TEUers to pass through. Only 207 box ships are too big. Thus, the canal's TEU capacity has risen 37 per cent to 85 per cent of the global fleet.
Another impact is on the structure of the containership sector. A new, more appropriate segmentation is needed. The 8,000- to 11,999-TEU sector will comprise the initial wave of neopanamaxes, while the 12,000- to 14,999-TEU sector contains the larger neopanamaxes of the future.
Today 59 ships in the 12,000- to 14,999-TEU sector can transit the new locks on the basis of the official dimensions, another 39 have dimensions so close to the limits one would imagine they are likely to transit, and a further 50 will probably fit through on the basis of the already mooted expansion of the beam restriction to 51 metres.
Source : SN-TR.