The Panama Canal Authority on Monday began taking transit reservations for Neopanamax vessels passing through the new locks of the expanded Panama Canal.
The first reservation was booked by the NYK Line LPG tanker Linden Pride, which has a length of 754.59 feet and a beam of 120.08 feet, the Canal Authority said Monday. The first commercial transits will occur June 27, one day after the official inauguration of the new locks.
Within hours of the opening of the first booking period, the Canal Authority said it had already filled all 25 available booking slots.
“We are very pleased and optimistic about the outcome of this first period and hope that more and more new ships pass through the expanded Panama Canal,” said Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano.
Vessels are classified as Neopanamax if their dimensions are over 966 feet in length or over 107 feet in beam.
The Canal Authority says that during the first period, a maximum of four booking slots will be available per day, with no more than two slots in each direction. Of the four slots, only one may be allocated to LNG vessels, a new segment for the canal. The first period lasts through September 30, 2016.
Slots for Just-In-Time transit service, future booking periods, and actioned slots for Neopanamax vessels are unavailable currently. Additionally, vessels with a draft greater than 39.5 feet tropical fresh water will not be able to book slots.
The inauguration of the $5.3 billion expansion project is set for June 26, nearly two years after initially planned. The project has been plagued by cost overruns, contractor disputes, and most recently cracks that formed in the concrete of the new locks.