Panama Canal Increases Draft Limit

by | Aug 8, 2019

After a period of very dry weather, the region around the Panama Canal has recently received enough rain to enable bigger vessels to travel through it.

This year’s lack of rainfall had resulted in many reductions in the draft size of vessels permitted through the waterway. The draft being the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of a ships’ hull, which is used in shipping to determine the minimum depth of water a ship can safely navigate. 

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has recently responded to the rainfall by increasing the permitted draft limit from 44 to 45 feet. This is still some way short of the 50 feet maximum that was in place before the cuts.

With reductions in the limit this year, the ACP has restricted the amount of weight that vessels can carry, and also the type of vessels that can pass, on what is the only route between Asia and the US East Coast. The net result being a reduction in capacity and a subsequent increase in rates. 

US and Asian exporters and importers will welcome the news of the increased draft limit and hope that it is the first step towards returning to full capacity. 

 

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