The container vessel COSCO Shipping Panama set sail from the Greek Port of Piraeus today on its way to Panama to make history. The Neopanamax vessel will make the inaugural transit of the Expanded Panama Canal on Sunday, June 26, after a 14-day journey.
Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano met with COSCO Shipping Panama’s Captain Jude Rodrigues and crew members prior to the ship’s departure.
“I am very excited to be here today to witness the sailing of the ship from Greece, but also meet the Captain and his crew,” said Administrator Quijano. “We are very pleased to be here watching it leave from Port of Piraeus. He is very thrilled to be part of this inaugural transit.”
“I had transited the Panama Canal many times before and it has been a great experience, but being the master of the first vessel to transit the expanded Canal is an experience of a century,” said Captain Rodrigues. “The Panama Canal is testament to the diligence and wisdom of the people of Panama. The Panama Canal Expansion is a major event on itself and a milestone in global history. I would like to congratulate the people of Panama for their efforts and contribution to global economy.”
Cosco Shipping Panama is a new vessel constructed and launched on January 2016. The Neopanamax containership is 299.98 meters in length and 48.25 meters in beam, and has a container carrying capacity of 9,472 TEUs. Originally named Andronikos, the vessel was renamed by China COSCO Shipping to pay respect to the people of Panama and for the honor of the inaugural transit. This ship was selected during a draw for the inaugural transit through the expanded waterway. Coincidentally, the ship was built in Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co., Ltd, the same company that constructed the valves that control the flow of water through the new locks of the Canal.
“Over a hundred years ago, the SS Ancon made history as the first vessel to transit the Panama Canal,” said Administrator Quijano. “In a few weeks, COSCO Shipping Panama, the Panama Canal, and the people of Panama will change the face of global shipping and international commerce. I am humbled and honored to lead the Panama Canal to this great milestone with the thousands who made this bold vision a reality.”
During the inauguration, COSCO Shipping Panama will transit Agua Clara Locks on the Atlantic side during the early morning and Cocoli Locks in the afternoon. The regular schedule of transits through the Expanded Canal will follow the next day, June 27.
The Panama Canal Expansion Program is the largest construction project undertaken in the waterway since its opening in 1914. Considered and analyzed for a decade with more than 100 studies, construction on the first-ever expansion began in 2007 to provide the world with greater shipping options, better maritime service, enhanced logistics and supply-chain reliability.
The project doubles the waterway’s cargo capacity, enhancing the Canal’s efficiency, reliability and customer service. Since Neopanamax vessels can now take advantage of the Canal’s vast benefits, new routes, liner services and other maritime changes are expected to emerge.