Neopanamax Boxship Hits Wall while Traversing Panama Canal

MV Xin Fei Zhou, a 8,500 TEU Neopanamax containership owned by China Cosco Shipping (COSCO), made contact with the wall while transiting the Expanded Panama Canal’s new Agua Clara locks Thursday, July 21, local media reported.

The containership’s hull was reportedly damaged and breached, however, the canal’s traffic was not affected as the wall suffered only a minor damage.

“The incident is being investigated according to the Panama Canal’s Navigation Regulations,” the Panama Canal Authority told World Maritime News.

According to the vessel’s AIS data, it is still anchored near the canal.

On June 26, the canal was inaugurated with the passage of another COSCO’s ship, COSCO Shipping Panama.

Earlier this year, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) raised in its joint study with Brazil’s Fundação Homem de Mar (FHM) considerable safety concerns related to the Expanded Panama Canal’s new locks.

Industry bodies warned that at 427 meters long and 55 meters wide, the new locks are too small for the Neopanamaxes. The largest vessels can measure up to 366 meters long and 49 meters wide, leaving a distance of just 6 meters across the width of the canal and 61 meters length-wise, much of which will be taken up by tugboats on either end of the vessel to guide it through the lock.

The study found that under windy conditions the maneuverability of vessels would be compromised, making accidents likely due to the lock’s narrow dimensions.

However, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) dismissed the study, putting in question its scientific accuracy and credibility.

World Maritime News Staff