The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has released advisory to shipping containing a draft restriction for all shipping agents, owners and operators due to a lower water level of the Gatun Lake.
Effective April 18, 2016, the maximum authorized transit draft will be set at 11.89 meters (39.0 feet), Tropical Fresh Water (TFW), as follows:
•Vessels loaded to drafts over 11.89 meters (39.0 feet) prior to or on March 21, 2016, will have this draft restriction waived for transit, subject to safety considerations.
•Vessels loaded after March 21, 2016, shall comply with this new draft limitation.
•Vessels arriving with drafts over 11.89 meters(39.0 feet), TFW, may be allowed to transit after this date depending on the level of Gatun Lake at the time of transit. Otherwise, they will be required to trim or off-load cargo in order to transit.
As in the past, draft restrictions will be implemented in 15-centimeter (six-inch) decrements at a time, with each restriction announced at least four weeks in advance. Vessels already loaded to the prevailing draft limitation at the time of announcing the new draft restriction will have this restriction waived for transit, subject to safety considerations.
The maximum authorized transit draft is the deepest point of immersion in TFW allowed for each particular vessel in Gatun Lake, which has a density of 0.9954 at 29.4°C (85°F). However, vessels shall arrive at Canal waters with no list.
The Panama Canal Authority will eliminate these draft restrictions as soon as Gatun Lake level returns to normal.