Panama Canal welcomes largest capacity container vessel to-date through expanded locks

By Vessels

Yesterday, the Panama Canal welcomed the largest capacity vessel to ever transit the Expanded Locks, the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt. The Neopanamax containership, which began its voyage from Asia, will be making stops along 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. To put the scale of this enormous ship into perspective, its length is roughly the equivalent of laying end to end two Great Pyramids of Giza, four Big Bens, or eight Statues of Liberty.

Panama Canal welcomes largest capacity container vessel to-date through expanded locks
Caption: Container ship CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt passing through the expanded Panama Canal locks -  Image courtesy of Canal de Panama

“Today’s transit not only represents the growing success and adoption of the Expanded Canal, but also its impact on reshaping world trade,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.

The CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt is deployed on the new OCEAN Alliance’s weekly South Atlantic Express (SAX) service, which connects Asia and U.S. East Coast ports via the Panama Canal. The SAX service is composed of 11 vessels ranging in size from 11,000 to 14,000 TEUs, including vessels which also transited the Expanded Canal earlier in May becoming the largest capacity ships to do so at time.

The CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt began its voyage in Shanghai and will soon call on ports along the U.S. East Coast. Stops will include Norfolk, Savannah, and Charleston, all of which have seen strong growth and record-breaking tonnage, following investments made to accommodate the larger vessels now able to transit the Expanded Canal. For this voyage, the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt will also call on the Port of New York and New Jersey, which recently completed a four year, $1.6 billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge to 215 ft. The move will allow the nation’s third-largest port for the first time to accept ships larger than 9,500 TEU to reach three of its four main terminals.

In addition to the vessel’s record-breaking capacity, what’s notable about the transit of the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt is that it also highlights the Panama Canal’s ability to reduce CO2 emissions compared to alternative routes. By traveling through Panama, the vessel saved 29,561 tons of CO2 in bypassing the Cape of Good Hope.

Emission reductions have been a key focus of the Expanded Canal, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in June. In its first year of operation, the Expanded Canal contributed to the reduction of 17 million tons of CO2 thanks to the shorter traveling distance and larger cargo carrying capacity that it offers to customers.

Looking forward to the 2018 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, the Panama Canal Authority is projected to accommodate approximately 13,000 vessels, including 2,335 Neopanamax vessels for a record tonnage of 429.4 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS).

Source: Canal de Panama