Panama positions itself as a lay-up centre for the western hemisphere

Panama is positioning itself as a competitive place to lay up ships. The country, home to the world’s largest registry, is offering 90 days free anchorage in the Bay of Panama for ships that are flagged with the Central American nation. Merchant ships flying a foreign flag will also be granted two months anchorage for free.

“The geographical position of the Republic of Panama contributes to the use of its anchorage areas since they have favorable and unique characteristics for this type of activities, such as: calm waters, little wind and climatic conditions that in other parts of the Pacific sector could put the lives of the crew at risk, here they can be done while minimizing the risks,” the Panama Maritime Authority stated in a release.

Southeast Asia has been the top destination for lay-ups over the past decade, but other areas are looking to get in on the business, which is suddenly back in vogue as the global economy teeters on the brink of depression.

Nearly two thirds of Splash readers in an ongoing poll reckon that the global economic meltdown from the so-called Great Lockdown will result in a record number of ships heading into lay-up in the coming 18 months.

“Whether lay-ups are greater than 2009 when numbers surpassed 1,000, is uncertain; many owners don’t immediately confirm the status of their ships. But already there are indications that Covid-19 presents greater challenges for seaborne trade, suggesting that lay-ups will become a feature dominating shipping over 2020,” a recent report from UK class society Lloyd’s Register stated.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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