Chinese ship makes inaugural transit across expanded Panama Canal

Updated: 2016-06-27 00:01

By Amy He in Panama City(China Daily USA)

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Chinese ship makes inaugural transit across expanded Panama Canal

COSCO SHIPPING Panama becomes the first ship to make transit across the newly expanded Panama Canal, entering the Atlantic side locks after 8am on Sunday. The Panama Canal expansion is a 9-year, $5.4 billion project that can accommodate longer, larger-capacity ships. AMY HE / CHINA DAILY

COSCO SHIPPING is the newly formed company after Cosco Group and China Shipping Group merged earlier this year, and the Panama vessel was loaded with containers bearing the names of “Cosco” and “China Shipping” onboard.

The company said that after the new expanded canal opens, it will be able to send many of its new Panamax ships it owns, which include large container and bulk carriers as well as tankers that can now pass through the wider lane. COSCO SHIPPING deploys its larger ships to enhance services to the US east coast, it said.

The COSCO SHIPPING Panama, launched in January 2016, is a new shipping vessel that measures 984 feet long and 158 feet in beam. It carries a capacity of 9,472 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) and was named in honor of the inaugural visit as well as the people of Panama, according to maritime news site Marine Link.

The inaugural ceremony marks the end of the largest construction project undertaken at the Panama Canal since its opening in 1914. The expansion doubles the canal’s cargo capacity, adding a third lane to accommodate larger ships that can carry about 14,000 containers, up from the 5,000 that ships can previously carry.

The expansion is meant to make the Panama Canal more competitive after the global shipping industry was impacted in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008.