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Panama Canal Authority refuses the allegations on tug inefficiency

Panama Canal Authority has sent a letter to SeaNews Turkey refusing the allegations on tug efficiency after the canal's expansion.

Panama Canal Authority refuses the allegations on tug inefficiency
22 May 2017 - 22:49 - Update: 22 May 2017 - 22:56

Panama Canal Authority: Enough tugboats available to meet the demand

Panama Canal Authority has sent a letter to SeaNews Turkey refusing the allegations on tug efficiency after the canal's expansion. 

The explanation from Panama Canal Authority has come right after the news published  on our site “Expanded Panama Canal 'at half capacity because of tug shortage'”.

Full text of Statement from Panama Canal Authority on tugboat efficiency: 

"Contrary to the MM&P’s false claims, the Expanded Panama Canal’s performance has far exceeded expectations since the inauguration in June 2016, setting monthly and daily tonnage records, attracting 15 new liner services, and welcoming an average of six daily Neopanamax transits when forecasts originally anticipated only two to three transits a day for the first year of operation. The maximum capacity of the waterway will eventually reach 10—12 daily Neopanamax vessels, which the Panama Canal is on set to reach ahead of schedule, as it continues to increase capacity and surpass expectations. These facts alone directly disprove MM&P’s wrongful claims of underperformance.

Among the Liquefied Natural Gas segment, a first for the waterway, 5.2 LNG vessels transit the Canal per week on average, above the original forecast of one weekly transit. It is precisely because of the planning, preparation, training, and added capacity that the Panama Canal put into place before the inauguration that has enabled its Expanded Canal to accommodate this growth in traffic earlier than anticipated—again surpassing expectations.  

The impact of this strong performance has been reflected in other parts of the world as well, principally in the ports of the East Coast of the United States, which are in various stages of deepening and expanding their channels to meet the growing number of Neopanamax vessels now transiting the Canal. As was the case for the Panama Canal, January 2017 was also a record month for several ports on the U.S. East Coast, including Charleston, Philadelphia, and Savannah, which recorded respective volume growths of 28, 34 and 16 percent. This growth along the U.S. East Coast is due in part to influx in Neopanamax traffic to and from the Expanded Canal.

To be clear, there has only been one incident among more than 1,200 Neopanamax vessels that safely transited the Expanded Canal and zero claims, which the Canal is proud of. To protect vessels and the locks structures, fenders are used at the Panamax and Neopanamax locks. Because of their intended use, fenders will get damaged and occasionally fall off the walls, and they are subsequently replaced, which is a standard, daily operation for waterways around the world.

Regarding tugboats, the Panama Canal has more than adequate resources to attend the current operations of the waterway and meet the industry's demand. The Canal's tugboat fleet grew 130%, from 20 units in 2000, to a total of 46 at present, with much greater towing capacity. In addition, between 2008 and 2014, the tugboat captains force grew by 57%, precisely to meet the new demand. Despite inaccurate claims to the contrary, the Panama Canal has no plans to privatize tugboat services. As the industry continues to increasingly rely on the safe and efficient service provided by the new locks, so too will the Panama Canal continue to take steps to improve productivity and ensure it maintains the resources and capacity necessary to meet this growing demand."

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