The eastbound lane at the Gatun locks will be closed from May 9 through May 18 to perform scheduled dry chamber work, according to an ACP advisory.
“The other lane in Gatun, as well as all other locks, will be operating as normal in both directions, and traffic will not be interrupted,” an ACP spokesperson told American Shipper.
The ACP regularly conducts scheduled preventative lock maintenance work, the spokesperson explained.
The ACP advisory illustrates how various other tentative outages are planned in the coming months, most of which just range from 4-10 hours per day.
However, a tentative 8-day outage is planned from July 12-19 on the Center Wall at the Gatun locks, and a tentative 10-day outage on the east lane at the Miraflores locks is planned from Aug. 15-24.
“This preventive maintenance is part of the Canal’s culture, which helps to ensure the locks are running as smoothly and effectively as possible for their customers, as they have for the past 102 years,” the spokesperson said.
Although maintenance on the original locks occasionally requires dry chamber work, the expanded locks were built in a way that maintenance can be conducted without having to dry them, which is why the ACP has rolling gates that can be serviced from the niches in the walls directly, the spokesperson said.
The expanded Panama Canal locks opened June 26, 2016. Before then, the largest containerships able to pass through the canal have had a carrying capacity of 5,000-5,100 TEUs, but now, ships carrying 13,500 to 14,000 TEUs have been able to transit the waterway.
In March 2017, ocean going transits through the Panama Canal averaged 34.55 per day, according to the ACP advisory. For just neo-Panamax vessels alone, vessel transits averaged 5.13 per day during the month. The ACP spokesperson said only two to three neo-Panamax vessels per day on average were expected to transit the waterway within the first year of the new locks opening.