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Panama Canal to Offer Just-In-Time Transit

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The Panama Canal Authority is implementing just-in-time service for vessels that will enable them to transit the canal closer to their scheduled times. This is expected to save fuel and produce a more efficient transit.

The Authority is near the end of a $5.2 billion expansion (expected to be finished in mid-2015) that is creating a new set of locks to double the waterway’s capacity. Existing locks are being enlarged to allow the larger ships currently being built. The new service will only be immediately available for vessels possessing type A automatic identification equipment. This will allow the Authority to track the vessels when they are 2,000 nautical miles from port, to ensure that they will arrive at their scheduled transit time.

Panama Canal administrator Jorge L. Quijano said, “This new service is part of our efforts to explore new options in order to better serve our customers. The Panama Canal is not only committed to maintaining a high-quality service, but also to improving in necessary areas.”

Net tonnage for the canal was up 8.6 percent in 2012, to 37.7 million. Companies are expecting the canal expansion to improve the flow of apparel and textile imports from Asia to East Coast ports. This will allow goods to travel directly, skipping Los Angeles, Long Beach, and transcontinental freight shipping.

Vessels will be notified 96 hours before their scheduled transit of their expected transit time and required time of arrival. Vessels must be willing and able to change itineraries to meet that time of arrival, and must also comply with pre-inspection procedures.


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