Panama Canal Increases Maximum Beam for Ships Using Neopanamax Locks

CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt
CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, with a beam of 48.2 meters, breaks the record for the largest ship to use the Expanded Panama Canal’s new Neopanamax locks, August 22, 2017. Photo: Panama Canal Authority. Photo: Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal Authority has announced it will increase the maximum allowable beam for vessels in the new Neopanamax locks by more than two meters, which will inevitably result in even-bigger ships using the waterway. 

The ACP said in an advisory to shipping this month that, starting on June 1, 2018, the new maximum allowable beam will be set to 51.25 meters (168.14 feet), more than two meters greater than the current maximum beam of 49 meters. The beam is measured at the outer surface of a vessel’s shell plate and all protruding structures below the lock walls.

“After nearly two years of successful operations at the Neopanamax locks, the Panama Canal Authority is pleased to announce an increase in the maximum allowable beam for vessels transiting these locks,” the ACP said in a statement.

The Expanded Panama Canal opened to vessels in June 2016 and so far more than 3,000 vessels already transited through the new Neopanamx locks.

Last August, the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt became the largest containership to pass through the Expanded Panama Canal’s Neopanamax locks during a voyage from Asia to the U.S. East Coast. The CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt has a Total TEU Allowance (TTA) of 14,855 and measures 365.9 meters in length and 48.2 meters in beam.

Less than a week afterward, CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt sister vessel, CMA CGM J Adams, with the same dimensions, became the second ship with a capacity of more than 14,000 TEU to use the Panama Canal.