A severe dry season has hit Central America causing the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to announce another draught reduction for the canal’s new neo-panamax locks.
From April 30th the maximum authorized draught for vessels transiting the new locks will be 13.41 metres of Tropical Fresh Water (TFW). The design capacity is for vessels with a draught of 15.2 metres.
Vessels arriving after April 30th with draughts of more than 13.41 metres TFW might be allowed to transit, depending on the actual level of Gatun Lake at the time of transit. If not, they will be required to trim or off-load cargo to the required level.
ACP reported that December 2018 to March 2019 had been the driest period in the past 106 years. It said that it was very difficult to determine the number of vessels affected by the draught reductions because the advance notice meant that they could plan their loading and adjust their draughts accordingly. “Once the vessels arrive, there is no way of telling if they adjusted their cargo due to the canal’s draught restrictions or not.”