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Panama Canal Expansion to Bring Major Benefits

What Panamanian citizens may not realize is that when they approved the Panama Canal Extension project in 2007, it sent a shockwave through every seaport in the United States, particularly those on the East Coast that were designed specifically to adhere to “Panamax” regulations. The Panama Canal expansion is a microcosm for the entire U.S. seaport system because the ports that will stay competitive in global trade markets are the same ones that need to modernize their sea terminals to accommodate the larger ships that will be traveling through the Panama Canal in 2014 when the extension is complete. Three years doesn’t leave much time for seaports to complete massive infrastructure projects, which is why most have already started dredging deeper ports to make way for the supersized ships.

The Panama Canal extension is “going to almost triple the size of vessels that are going to be able to transit the canal,” Kurt J. Nagle, president of the American Association of Port Authorities said in a recent interview. “I don’t think it’s over-hyped to say it’s a game Panamax” where the maximum size of a ship that can pass is 1,200 feet long by 160 feet wide, opposed to the current standard of 956 feet long by 106 feet wide. The container capacity of ships will swell to 12,000 TEU from 5,000. TEU or twenty-foot-equivalent describes the volume of the total intermodal containers that are being transported. The maximum draft of vessels travelling to and from the U.S. East Coast will increase to as much as 50 feet from 39.5 feet. (World wide shipping news)

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