Containership’s Transit Sets New Panama Canal Record

The 13,208 TEU OOCL France becomes the largest ship to use the Expanded Panama Canal, May 24, 2017. Photo: Panama Canal Authority

The OOCL France has set a new record as the largest ship to transit the Expanded Panama Canal since its inauguration nearly one year ago.

The new record comes less than a month after the COSCO Development became the first 13,000 TEU containership to use the expanded waterway. The vessel went on to set the soon-to-be-broken record as the largest containership to visit the U.S. east coast

According to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), Hong Kong-flagged OOCL France measures 366.47 meters in length by 48.23 meters in beam and has a total TEU allowance (TTA) of 13,926 twenty-foot containers, or 13,208 TEU based on OOCL’s website. 

Photo: ACP

OOCL France made the record-breaking northbound transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic on Wednesday while deployed on the new OCEAN Alliance’s weekly South Atlantic Express (SAX) service, connecting Asia-U.S. East Coast ports via the Panama Canal. The SAX service is comprised of 11 vessels ranging in size from 11,000 to 13,000 TEUs. OOCL France is the second vessel in this service to transit through the Expanded Canal after COSCO Development earlier this month.

“This trend towards the transit of 13,000 TEU or greater vessels demonstrates the acceptance and trust that the shipping industry has with the service provided by the Expanded Canal,” Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said.

COSCO Development set the previous record on May 2 before calling at the U.S. east coast ports of Norfolk, Savannah, and Charleston. The containership measures 366.45 meters in length and 48.26 meters in beam and has TTA of 13,345, according to the ACP, or 13,092 TEU.

OOCL France transits the Expanded Panama Canal, May 25, 2017. Photo: ACP/Edelman

To date, a total of 1,360 Neopanamax vessels have transited the Expanded Canal since it first opened in June 2016. Of those, containerships have represented approximately 43.8 percent of traffic, followed by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, which represent approximately 29 and 8.1 percent, respectively, the Panama Canal Authority says.

During its transit on Wednesday, OOCL was honored with the Panama Canal Authority’s Green Connection Award in recognition of its commitment to reducing emissions by using the Panama Canal. By using waterway, the vessel helped reduce approximately 5,000 to 26,000 tons of carbon dioxide compared to alternative routes.

The OCEAN Alliance includes China COSCO Shipping, Orient Overseas Container Lines (OOCL), CMA CGM Group and Evergreen.