PANAMA CITY – The container ship OOCL France became on Wednesday the largest capacity vessel to transit the Panama Canal, the agency that operates that inter-oceanic waterway said.
The OOCL France, which is 366.47 meters (1,201 feet) in length and 48.23 meters in beam, eclipsed the previous mark because of its capacity to carry 13,926 Twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs, or containers measuring 20 feet in length), Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Administrator Jorge Quijano told reporters.
The previous record had been set just over three weeks ago by the COSCO Development container ship, which is 366.45 meters long and 48.26 meters in beam and has a 13,345 total TEU allowance (TTA), he said.
Both ships are deployed on the new OCEAN Alliance’s weekly South Atlantic Express service that connects Asian ports with their United States East Coast counterparts via the Panama Canal.
The ACP honored the vessel with its “Green Connection Award,” saying that the decision to use the canal had resulted in an emissions reduction of between approximately 5,000 and 26,000 tons of carbon dioxide compared to alternative routes.
Quijano told reporters that ships with a TTA of more than 14,000 would begin transiting the Panama Canal next year.
A canal expansion program was carried out between 2007 and 2016 at an initial cost of $5.25 billion, the centerpiece of which was a new third set of locks that allow the canal to accommodate modern New Panamax ships.
An annual total of 14,000 ships transit the canal, which handles roughly 6 percent of world trade.