Expanded Panama Canal opens with Chinese ship making first passage
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]C[/dropcap]osco Shipping Panama, a vessel belonging to China COSCO Shipping Corporation, sailed down the expanded Panama Canal on Sunday morning, becoming the first ship to mark the official opening of the expanded canal on the day.
Sailing from the Atlantic, the vessel, which changed its name from Andronikos for the occasion, approached the Agua Clara locks in Colon pulled by four tugboats.
The 299.99-meter-long container vessel with a carrying capacity of 9,443 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) opened a chapter in the international shipping history during a ceremony, marking the conclusion of the nine-year expansion project of the canal.
Thousands of people lined up along the canal to mark its passage while events are being held in Panama City and regional capitals for the occasion.
Shouts of “Viva Panama (Long Live Panama)” could be heard from the crowd, cheering a new page for a legendary piece of infrastructure that Panama is very proud of.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]fter arriving early on Sunday at the Agua Clara docks, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela spoke briefly, saying that it “is an historic day for the country” and inviting all people to celebrate this great success, as free tickets were distributed to those wishing to attend the ceremony.
The jubilant head of state also took to Twitter, writing “our Canal has entered a new era. Congratulations Panama!”
Panama Canal Authority administrator Jorge Luis Quijano flew over the locks before the ship arrived and told the press that the good weather should make the passage very smooth.
A representative from COSCO Shipping also presented Varela with a plaque for the company’s ship having the honor of being the first through the expanded Canal.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he expansion of the Panama Canal will bring the traffic through the inter-oceanic passage to a new level, which already handles around 6 percent of global trade transportation, Quijano said on Saturday.
With the expansion of the canal’s width and depth, the volume of traffic will double, as Neopanamax-class vessels will now be able to pass through, carrying up to 14,000 standard containers, or TEUs.
In an interview with Xinhua on Saturday, Ilya Espina de Marotta, head of the canal’s expansion plan, said that “there is already big interest in transit through the new locks.
The Panama Canal Administration has already received bookings for the next 90 days, with at least 120 passages. Most ships involved are container vessels of more than 8,000 TEUs.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]F[/dropcap]urthermore, during a press conference on Saturday, Francisco Jose Miguez, the Panama Canal Authority’s vice president of administration and finances, said that “the expansion will see the Canal double its contribution to Panama’s finances by 2021.”
Earlier in June, Jude Sebastian Rodrigues, captain of Cosco Shipping Panama, told Xinhua that “it is a great honor for me to be the captain of the …vessel selected to make the first transit across the Canal.”
“It is an honor not only for the vessel and its crew, but also for COSCO Shipping and all its employees working on board and at sea,” the captain said.
(This story has not been edited by PGurus.com and is auto–generated from a syndicated feed we subscribe to.)
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