The Panama Canal Authority has ordered 14 new tugs in anticipation of increased traffic and larger vessels expected with the 2014 completion of the Third Set of Locks expansion project. The $158.3 million construction contract was awarded to Astilleros Armon S.A. of Spain, who beat out nearly 20 other bidders from countries in South America, Europe and Asia.
The contract calls for the construction, testing and delivery of fourteen 70-ton tractor-type tugs to be used for assisting larger vessels with transit operations, anchoring and other maneuvers in the canal. The first vessel will be delivered within 600 days of being awarded.
The Panama Canal currently has a fleet of 36 tugs to assist more than 14,000 transits every year. Earlier this week, the Panama Canal reported it had set a new tonnage record in 2011.