On 15 August, the Panama Canal celebrated its 100th birthday with a ceremony at its Miraflores locks, followed by a centennial gala. Many representatives from the maritime community attended, including owners, builders, insurers and operators.

During its 100 years of existence, more than 1 million vessels have transited the Panama Canal carrying in excess of 8 billion tonnes of cargo. Since its inauguration a century ago the canal’s importance to world trade has grown substantially: up to 14,000 ships now transit the canal annually, representing nearly 5 per cent of total world shipping.

The President of the Republic of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, was in attendance exchanging ideas during the gala dinner with the current canal Administrator, Jorge Quijano, and the canal’s former Administrator Alberto Aleman-Zubieta. Ray Fitzgerald, Atlantic MPA President, and Mary Carmen Barrios, Latin America General Manager, represented WWL at the event.

The Panama Canal is in the midst of a $5.25 billion expansion construction project that should be completed next year. This will allow for the larger “Post-Panamax” vessels to transit the canal, and will expand global trade.