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Panama's president officially opens the expanded Panama Canal

Panama's president officially opens the expanded Panama Canal
More than 20,000 spectators, international delegations, Canal customers, shipowners and liner ceos watched the 9,478-teu Marshall Islands-flagged Cosco Shipping Panama slowly transit the Pacific Cocoli locks while Panama President Juan Carlos Varela formally declared the inauguration of the expanded Panama Canal, Sunday evening.

Minutes before Jorge Quijano, Panama Canal Authority administrator, delivered the waterway's new third lane to Varela, who received it in the name of all Panamanians.

Among international onlookers were seven presidents including Michelle Bachelet from Chile and Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen, as well as Spain’s King Emeritus Juan Carlos.

The boxship formerly known as Andronikos was renamed Cosco Shipping Panama in honour of the inauguration of the expanded Canal. She had begun her voyage early morning arriving at the Atlantic Agua Clara locks.

This third lane of traffic features two locks with three levels or chambers. The lock chambers are 427mtr long, 55mtr wide and 18.3mtr deep. Compared with the original Panama Canal, these new locks are 40% longer and 60% wider, improved by a system of water-saving basins that will use 7% less water than the original locks and save 60% per lockage.

Commercial operations will begin today with the transit of LPG tanker Lycaste Peace from NYK.

More reporting on this historic event is available at Seatrade Maritime News.