The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced that it is increasing the maximum allowable draft for vessels transiting the Canal’s expanded locks, also known as the neopanamax locks, to 14.94 metres tropical fresh water (TFW).
It follows recent rainfall in the Canal watershed that has significantly increased the levels of Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes in the past few days.
The expanded third set of locks for the Canal were the result of a massive $5.25 billion construction project.
They opened for commercial operation on 26 June 2016 and have seen a big increase in cargo volume transiting the inter-oceanic waterway since then.
Even vessels with drafts greater than 14.94m may be allowed to transit, said the ACP, depending on the actual level of Gatun Lake at the time.
If deemed too great, the vessels may be required to offload some cargo before being allowed through.