Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Panama Canal Additions to the Tug Fleet for Expansion in 2015

The Panama Canal has increased its tugboat fleet with the arrival of the first two of 14 tugboats that will improve the waterway’s resources to offer a safer and more efficient service to the global shipping industry. These tugboats will strengthen the Canal’s capacity for the operation of the Third Set of Locks.

photo by Juliette Passer

These new tugboats will allow the Panama Canal to continue offering a world-class service,” Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quiijano said. “They will help us prepare to face the challenge of operating the new set of locks with the same efficiency.”

Quijano explained that the update to the Panama Canal tugboat fleet began in 2001, when the waterway had 20 tugs. Currently, the Panama Canal has 39 and by the end of next year and after retiring those tugs reaching the end of their lifespan, the Panama Canal will have a fleet of 44 tugboats to face the operational demands of the current and expanded Canal.

The additional capacity will allow assisting Post-Panamax vessels that will be transiting the expanded Canal, which will not require the use of locomotives used in the existing locks.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Panama Canal Implements Just-in-Time Service Trial Period

Panama City, Panama, May 30, 2013 - Continuing its commitment to provide a quality service to its customers, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has implemented the just-in-time service (JIT) that will allow vessels to have a more efficient transit. The new service will allow the vessels to arrive at the Panama Canal much closer to their scheduled transit time. This value-added service will allow vessels to have a more efficient fuel usage by having to remain at anchor for less time before actually beginning transit.

"This new service is part of our efforts to explore new options in order to better serve our customers," Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said. "The Panama Canal is not only committed to maintaining a high quality service, but also improve in the necessary areas."

The participation on this trial period will focus on vessels equipped with a type A Automatic Identification System (AIS) device. In order to evaluate the operational feasibility of the service, a proof-of-concept trial was developed and is being implemented since February 2013.


In order for this service to be functional for both the Canal and its clients, the vessels' arrival time (ETA) must be as accurate as possible. The vessel must be willing and able to adjust its itinerary to meet the required ETA. Furthermore, the vessels must comply with the ACP pre-inspection procedures.

To achieve an effective level of JIT service, the selected vessels will be notified approximately 96 hours prior to their scheduled transit of their required ETA and tentative transit time. The Panama Canal will then use Satellite Automatic Identification System (SAIS) technology to track the vessels within a range of 2,000 nautical miles (1 nautical mile = 1,852 meters) before arrival and ensure that they can comply with the stipulated ETA. Additionally:

Non-booked vessels may request to participate in the JIT service; however, participation will be confirmed after securing a booking slot for that specific transit date. If the booking slot is not obtained, the vessel will not be allowed to participate in the JIT service.
Two JIT service slots per day will be offered to regular vessels (under 27.74 meters or 91 feet in beam) without transit restrictions, with a maximum of one JIT service slot per direction. The allocation of these JIT service slots will be determined by the order the requests were received.