Millionth vessel transits Panama Canal
History was made recently when the dry bulk carrier Fortune Plum was the 1,000,000th vessel to transit through the Panama Canal since it opened in 1914.
The Fortune Plum left China in August carrying approximately 40,000 tons of steel products, heading for the Panamanian port of Cristobal to help meet the local construction industry’s demand for building materials.
To reach that port, the vessel had to move carefully through the Panama Canal, which enables shipping to move between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans without making the long and sometimes perilous trip around the southern tip of South America.
At 57,000 MT, 189.99m LOA, and with a beam of 32.30m, the Fortune Plum is one of the largest vessels that can pass through the waterway. It started the transit from the Pacific Terminal and completed it 14.7 hours later, arriving at Miraflores Locks on the Atlantic side.
On the day the Fortune Plum made its historic passage, it was one of a total of 31 vessels that transited. Vessel number 999,999 entered the Gatun locks in the opposite direction seven minutes earlier than the Fortune Plum entered from the Pacific side.
Five percent of the world’s sea borne trade passes through the 80 kilometer (50 mile) canal every year. The Fortune Plum has now entered the history books as the millionth transit. The very first slot was taken 96 years ago by the SS Ancon.
It is anticipated that by 2011, 37% of the world's container ships will be too large for the present Canal. A Panama Canal enlargement scheme is in progress, with completion expected in 2014. The estimated US$5.25bn project will double the Canal's capacity by allowing more traffic and for the passage of longer and wider ships.