Efficiency and environmental performance have also been in focus when designing the post Panamax vessels.

Since opening in 1914, the Panama Canal has greatly reduced sailing times between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, facilitating a boom in global trade. But, as ocean vessels have increased in size, the width of the canal’s locks has remained the same: 33.53 metres, to be exact.The importance of the canal meant that until recently, most shipping companies built their vessels within these restrictions,so called Panamax ships with a beam (width) of 32.31 metres.

In 2015 new locks will open on the Panama Canal, allowing for“post Panamax” vessels to pass, an average 25 per cent larger than those currently able to use the canal. In preparation for this WWL will be receiving eight post Panamax vessels between 2014 and 2016.

The new vessels will be 36.5 metres wide (more than 4 metres wider than the current maximum), 200 metres long and have a cargo capacity equivalent to 8000 cars over 13 decks. But the new design isn’t all about size. Efficiency and environmental performance have also been in focus when designing the post Panamax vessels.

By analysing data from current vessels, WWL were able to gauge how best to maximise performance in the new designs; periods of slow and full steaming, ballast sailing periods and various loads were all analysed, to help optimise the profile of the new hulls.

A larger beam, means a reduced need for ballast. This in turns means reduced displacement and therefore drag. In addition lighter steels, a larger, slower-rotating propeller and a low-load optimised engine all add to increased efficiency. The vessels are also laid out to enable quick and safe loading and discharge of vehicles in port.


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