THE Panama Canal completed its transit of Evergreen's 15,313-TEU Triton, the biggest ship to pass through the expanded canal since it opened in June 2016.
Before this, the biggest ship to transit went through on August 22, 2017. That was the 14,863-TEU CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt. Of the 6,000 neopanamaxes transited to date, half were containerships.
"Today's transit surpassed the 15,000 TEU vessel threshold, establishing a new record in terms of total TEU capacity," said Panama Canal administrator Jorge Quijano.
The neopanamax containership Triton, which has a Total TEU Allowance (TTA) of 15,313, a 20-row beam of 51.2 metres and a length of 369 metres, transited northbound from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.
"We are excited about the opportunities enabled by the Triton's trial transit," said Panama Canal administrator Jorge Quijano. "Our team continues to offer the additional capacity, and deliver on our promise to provide unparalleled safe and efficient service to our customers.
This makes it possible by an increase to the maximum allowable beam for vessels transiting the neopanamax locks. Beginning in June 2018, the canal increased the allowable beam from 49 metres to 51.25 metres due to the team's extensive training and experience gained from successfully operating the expanded canal for almost three years.
The Triton is deployed on Evergreen's Far East - United States East Coast (AUE) service as part of the OCEAN Alliance network, which connects Asia and U.S. East Coast ports via the Panama Canal. The AUE service is comprised of 11 vessels ranging in size from 8,000 to 14,000 TEU. The Alliance includes China Cosco Shipping, Orient Overseas Container Lines (OOCL), CMA CGM Group and Evergreen, which are among the Panama Canal's top customers by volume.
Before construction started the best hope for increased ship size was double the old canal limit of 4,500 TEU, that is, 9,000-TEU. Upon opening, it was reset at 13,000-TEU. Then without changing the ship size, another layer of boxes were added to the weather deck. Then changing ship design added even more capacity until it surpassed the 15,000-TEU level.