Tankers must cool decks during Panama Canal transits

Tankers have been issued with new deck-cooling orders by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). The directive applies from this month and involves all crude, product and chemical tankers carrying cargoes with flashpoints of less than 18 degrees.

In a note to members, BIMCO attributed the move to the need to ensure the safety of canal operations, as well as to reduce disruptions in transit scheduling. Main decks must be cooled by a sprinkler system, or any other means available during transit.

BIMCO said that this would prevent automatic activation of release relief valves during transit.

The cooling has to be carried out between 10:00 and 16:00 while the vessel is underway at Gatun Lake or Gaillard Cut, or at anchor in canal waters. The cooling should be stopped while a vessel is going through locks.