The Panama Canal Authority (PCA) plans to close the east lane of the canal for maintenance for 10 days from May 9th to May 18th. PCA will confirm the temporary closure a few days before May 9th. It has reduced the number of booking slots during this period. The west lane will remain open, permitting a reduced number of southbound and northbound vessels to pass. The size of vessels operating in the west lane will not be restricted.
During March vessels were taking on average more than 11 hours to transit the canal. Following the canal’s expansion last July the canal became capable of transiting neopanamaxes, with beams of 107ft. But problems with the new tug-facilitated transit system, plus a shortage of trained crews, have led to a number of so-called “fender benders” on the canal sides. In January neopanamaxes used 78% of their slots.