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Friday, April 25 2014 @ 03:34 AM EDT

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Story of the Month for April 2008 - Canal Pilot's Strike

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The ongoing "Malicious compliance" non-declared work slowdown "non-strike" being carried out by the Panama Canal Pilots has to be the top story for April 2008. The most interesting part of this story is that it's a kind of "non-event" - the pilot's can not legally go on strike so they can't make public declarations or statements, and at the same time the Panama Canal Administration is denying that the strike exists. So, for a journalist it kinds of falls into a kind of never-never land from a reporting point of view. But what matters is this - the strike is real, and they are having an effect on the international shipping community, potentially costing shippers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and additional costs. Therefore, it's the Panama-Guide story of the month for April 2008.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Still Think the Panama Canal Pilot Strike Isn't Real?

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I'm not talking to a group of Panama Canal Pilots through several different means and methods who are keeping me abreast of their on-going "malicious compliance" strike. Recently one of the pilots posted this as a comment to an earlier article. I'm pushing it forward here because it's a clear and relatively succinct wrap-up of how they got where they are today:

  • "I am a panama canal pilot. I DO NOT have the luxury or option of deciding the daily schedule of what ships will pass thru the Panama Canal. That is a "managment function". We are the footsoldiers....so to speak...that do the 'HEAVY LIFTING' for management. We work under a very stringent and time-tested set of work rules and navigation and lockage rules/procedures..some of which go back DECADES." (more)
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My Apologies to Teresa Arosemena of the ACP

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I would like to formally and officially extend my apologies to Teresa Arosemena of the Panama Canal Administration (ACP). She's understandably "miffed" over my coverage of the ongoing "malicious compliance" strike being carried out by the Panama Canal Pilots. Let me be perfectly clear on something - Teresa Arosemena works in the Corporate Communications division of the ACP. She is often quoted as being a "spokesperson" for the Panama Canal. Newspapers, magazines, and reporters contact the ACP all the time and very often they talk to Teresa. As such, she ends up getting quoted in the articles these journalists write. (more)

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Ocean to ocean - Panama Canal Pilots Strike Affecting Yachters

Canal Daily Operationyachtingmonthly.com - A Panama Canal Authority spokeswoman has assured Yachting Monthly that they are 'concerned' about the bottleneck of yachts piling up at the Caribbean end of the canal, which we reported on yesterday, and are 'working aggressively to reduce the backlog.' The measures they have introduced to this end include: * Postponing all routine maintenance work at the locks; * Assigning additional crews at the locks, including personnel for tie-up locomotives; * Incorporating more tugboats and tugboat crews to assist in canal operations; * Assigning tie-up locomotives at all locks; * Adding locomotives and cables to deeply laden bulk carriers and tankers at all locks; * Increasing the number of slots for ships waiting to transit by temporarily reducing the number of available reservation slots from 27 to 23 slots per day; * Changing the schedule of non-commercial boats, which now transit every other day, limited to a maximum of three-per-day per direction. (more)
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"Pure Speculation" and "Irresponsible Reporting" My Butt

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I've been reporting on the "malicious compliance" undeclared work slowdown strike being conducted by the pilots of the Panama Canal basically since it started. I have several excellent sources among the work force of the Panama Canal pilots - they read Panama Guide all the time. And when they started down this road they notified me of the their plans and intentions. The strike started on 15 February 2008 and so far no major international news outlet has picked up on the story. Last week Lloyd's List sent a reporter down who took a nibble and made reference to my reporting, but then continued with the ACP "party line" that there is no strike, at all. Then yesterday Teresa Arosemena, the Director of Communications from the ACP, wrote back to Lloyd's List saying that their reporter was irresponsible in having mentioned the possibility of a strike. That's a recap. Now, check this out... (more)

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(The ACP Says That) ACP has Panama jam under control

Canal Daily OperationLLOYD’S LIST - From Teresa Arosemena, April 24, 2008: SIR, I wish to rectify the erroneous statements made by reporter Michelle Wiese Bockmann in her article ‘Panama battles to clear canal bottleneck’ (Lloyd’s List, April 18). She claims that “the Panama Canal is struggling to control major congestion” and that “local agents have suggested that an industrial dispute between the canal authority and pilots that help ships transit the canal may be responsible”. The fact is that this time of the year is always a high season for the canal where there are more ships than usual going through the waterway. To suggest that this is otherwise, is not only pure speculation, it is irresponsible reporting. (more)
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Canal Backlog Easing Somewhat

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Here's what I do to determine the backlog of ships waiting to go through the Panama Canal - I go to aislive.com and count the number of ships waiting in the Pacific anchorage as a gauge. The last time I counted there were 74 ships and now there are 58, that's sixteen fewer ships in the anchorage than there were nine days ago. The ACP is doing everything they can to push steel through, but in fact the Panama Canal Pilot's "malicious compliance" strike is making it hard(er) for them to clear out the backlog. So yes, there are fewer ships waiting to go through now than there was nine days ago. (more)

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Panama battles to clear canal bottleneck

Canal Daily Operation Michelle Wiese Bockmann for Lloyd's List - Ships currently face a minimum four-day wait. The Panama canal is struggling to control major congestion as transit times nearly double to a record 53 hours, while this week’s backlog averaged 93 vessels. Queues have eased little from their peak in March, when 119 vessels waited as long as eight days to transit the major trade artery. That is despite a series of measures to address the backlog, which has occurred during its busiest time of the year. Ships currently face a minimum four-day wait for the 80km journey through the canal. But more alarmingly, the journey time has risen by nearly 20 hours in one month, and now takes an average of 53 hours, based on March operational figures. (more)
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Panama Canal Pilots "Malicious Compliance" Strike - a.k.a. "Working To Rules"

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The "malicious compliance" strike now being carried out by the Pilot's of the Panama Canal is not a new tactic. They used to call it "working to rules:" The following was taken from The Bulletin Panama and was published on 2 July 2007: "The Panama Canal pilots have always had the dubious honor of being “prima donnas” in that organization and made their power known to a long line of Canal administrators. Under the former US administration by US public service law they did not have the right to strike. However, they knew how to bring pressure to bear by “working to rules”, which they did implement."

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Another Panama Canal Pilots Strike - This One in 1980

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Here's another one, this time it was a slowdown by the Panama Canal Pilots in 1980 that was covered by ABC News - "ABC Evening News for Tuesday, Oct 21, 1980 Headline: Panama Canal / Pilots Strike Abstract: (Studio) Report introduced REPORTER: Frank Reynolds (Panama Canal) Backup at Panama Canal due to increase in international shipping and work slowdown of pilots examined; films shown. [Canal commission spokesperson Dennis McAULIFFE - comments.] Issues still to be negotiated outlined. REPORTER: James Walker"

Come On, Guys - Get With The Program: Sooner or later the mainstream media is going to pick up on this story. La Prensa took a nibble but didn't bite hard. Sooner, or later... It's the read deal.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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The Panama Canal "Anthrax Strike" of 1976

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Now I'm running into some really interesting stuff. I bet you didn't know about the "Anthrax Strike" of the Panama Canal. This was a "sick-out" labor action taken by Panama Canal workers in March 1976 and was called the "anthrax strike" because union leaders were calling the Panama Canal Commission "gutless sheep." I found this amazing article which provides in incredible detail the origins of the strike: "By Wednesday March 17 the story was plastered across the front pages of American newspapers. “’Sickout’ Almost Shuts Panama Canal” blared the banner headline of the Miami Herald that morning. A backlog of ships carrying cargo in international commerce was starting to develop on both ends of the canal. The Governor’s office claimed that 700 of the 3,500 US citizen employees had called in sick by midday Tuesday. The unions claimed it was “closer to 1,500 or 2,000.”[95] The Panama Canal had never been closed since the 1915 landslide and the Governor was bound to see that it didn’t happen on his watch either." (Source: "Anthrax Strike: The 1976 Outbreak of Labor Militancy in the Panama Canal Zone" by Michael Murphy, IBEW Local Union 520, Senior Seminar, October 2005)

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Historical Evidence of Panama Canal Pilot "Work Slowdowns"

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - In researching this story about the ongoing "malicious compliance" strike being carried out by the pilot's of the Panama Canal I ran into this reference on the Internet, taken from The Maritime Advocate.com and published in October 1999 - "Panama Canal employees were forbidden to strike pursuant to US law. The closest situation to a strike occurred when the Panama Canal pilots held "work slowdowns" when they were unhappy in their negotiation of wages and benefits. These situations were normally resolved very quickly, and the canal basically operated in an orderly and efficient manner." These are the same group of crusty old farts that have been pushing steel through the Panama Canal practically since it was dug. The new administration, the ACP, had better find a way to end this quickly because the canal is not currently "operating in an orderly and efficient manner" as it was in the past. The pilots basically have the ACP with one ball in each hand, and they are slowly squeezing. And apparently it's worked in the past.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Panama Canal Kluster 2008 Continues (Canal Pilots Still On Strike)

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Well, today I decided to check back in on the kluster that has become the Panama Canal. Back in the second week of February 2008 (now about eight weeks ago) the Panama Canal pilots started an informal and undeclared "malicious compliance" strike. More of a work slow-down than anything else, really. They want a new labor contract and a raise but the ACP has been blowing them off for more than two years. So, they decided to just turn the heat up a little. Well, the heat has been on a slow boil for about two months now and it seems they've pegged the backlog they want to maintain at "about 100" ships waiting to get through. More show up, more go through. Less show up, less go through. It kind of makes you wonder who is actually running the show over there. (more)

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Panama Flag Goes 24/7

Canal Daily OperationMaritime Global Net.com - The Panama Maritime Authority, which administers the world’s largest commercial fleet, says it is now offering access to the Bureau of Maritime Security (SEGUMAR) on a continued basis, 24 hours a day seven days a week, for the users of the Panama Registry. Previously based in New York, SEGUMAR services and offices have been relocated in Panama, in the new headquarters of the Panama Maritime Authority. SEGUMAR's Panama Office is manned around the clock by officials bilingual in English and Spanish who will be able to respond immediately to queries. SEGUMAR-New York will continue to print and deliver the Technical Certificates issued and approved by the SEGUMAR-Panama Office, receive the payments by Recognized Organizations (ROs) related to the issuance of statutory certificates, attend technical inquiries from the costumer’s area, act as liaison between the General Directorate of Merchant Marine and the customers of the geographical area, follow-up on PSC detentions and will liaise with PSC authorities of the geographical area.
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Queen Elizabeth II Makes Final Panama Canal Transit

Canal Daily Operation La Prensa - The Queen Elizabeth II, a ship with 40 years of history, passed through the Panama Canal yesterday for the last time. The cruise ship which measures 963 feet in length and 105 feet wide and a capacity for more than 2,000 passengers, will be turned into a floating hotel in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
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Panama Canal Pilot Work Slowdown Reduces Daily Capacity

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - How many ships can pass through the Panama Canal every day? What exactly is the daily capacity of the Panama Canal? How is that capacity measured? The answer is - "it depends." The advertised capacity of the canal is 38 ships per day. Sometimes they can get as many as 41 or 42 through on a "good day." And it really matters what kinds of ships are going through - it's easier to get some through than others. The ACP has what they consider to be their best customers, the owners of the major shipping lines that put hundreds of ships through the canal every year and paying millions of dollars for the service. So here's the question - if the Panama Canal Pilots actually are conducting some kind of an undeclared work slowdown, and that work slowdown is causing the backlog, how would anyone know? Would it even be possible to detect? The answer is "probably not." (more)

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ACP Sticking to Party Line Regarding Backlog

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I just checked with the Panama Canal Administration regarding the backlog, and they are sticking to their three part response regarding the backlog of vessels - the backlog has been caused by a combination of increased arrivals and maintenance work on the locks. They have now suspended all maintenance work and have assigned additional resources to help clear out the backlog. And, they don't know anything about reports of a work slowdown by Panama Canal pilots. They did confirm that currently there are 98 ships in the backlog, which has remained at about 100 ships or so for now going on seven weeks. So now what happens if the ACP can not clear out the backlog and the current situation continues for six or ten months - no more maintenance work on the canal locks? Please add "head in the sand culture" to the list of deficiencies for Panamanian managers in general. To be fair I was just talking to people in the ACP communications office, and they are only authorized to tell the press exactly what has been coordinated with their bosses. So they too have been turned into perfect robots. Right now I'm waiting for a call back to request an interview with someone in the ACP management authorized to discuss the (non declared) situation with the canal pilots. Maybe the phone will never ring, but who knows.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Panama Canal Suspends All Maintenance Work

Canal Daily Operation By Wilfredo Jordán Serrano for La Prensa - The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has suspended regular maintenance work on the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks to ease the passage of ships waiting at the entrances of the Panama Canal. As of yesterday there were 98 ships waiting to transit the canal confirmed the ACP. According the the ACP, the backlog has been caused by an increase in the arrivals of ships significantly from 38.2 per day last year to 43 ships per day in the present period. Some ships have had to wait in the anchorage for more than a week to be able to make the transit, with the exception of those ships that have paid an additional fee for a scheduled transit spot. (more)
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The Panama Canal Pilots "Malicious Compliance" Non-Strike

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The Panama Canal continues to be backed up worse than Grandma on a field trip without her Metamucil. And of course it only makes headline news when it effects a ship load of paying cruise line passengers - see the story below about the severely pissed-off passengers on a cruise ship who went through the Panama Canal - at night. The owners of cargo vessels have been waiting a week or more to get their vessels through. The Panama Canal has been severely backed up for weeks with more than 100 vessels waiting in line for more than a week for a chance to go through. What's causing these delays? The Panama Canal has a serious case of "malicious compliance." (more) (Discuss this issue in our Forums)

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Panama Canal Still More Constipated than Grandma...

Canal Daily Operation Synfo.com - For those yacht crews who are planning to use the Panama Canal to cross from the Caribbean to the Pacific in the coming weeks note that there is a backlog of 100 vessels waiting to cross the channel and this may delay crossings for up to a week, according to Associated Yacht Services in Balboa, Panama. The AUTORIDAD DEL CANAL DE PANAMÁ has issued the following statement: During a moderate lull in arrivals last month, the ACP performed critical maintenance work at the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks which required a few hours of lane outages. Unfortunately, this maintenance work coincided with a surge of arrivals in the second half of February. During this period, arrivals averaged 43.0 vessels per day, compared to the 38.2 vessels for the same period in Fiscal Year 2007. (more)
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Panama Pilots Row

Canal Daily OperationMaritime Global Net - A ROW has broken out over pilotage in Panama. The Panama Pilots Services Corp. (PPSC) has accused Caribbean Pilots Inc (CPI) of violating pilotage regulations, Panamanian criminal law and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) and has demanded immediate cancellation of the operational permit granted CPI. PPSC is a holding comprising three pilotage companies--Pilsemar, Quality Action Club and Practicos Unidos. Donaldo Sousa, PPSC’s attorney, says that legal action has been brought before the General Attorney’s Office against Dr. Hugo Torrijos Richa, CPI owner; CPI pilots Henry Pino and Antonio Barrios; the deputy administrator and the director of the Seafarers Department of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), Carlos Raul Moreno and Maribel Barreiro; nine marine officers and several executives working at Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT) and Colon Container Terminal (CCT).
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Panama Canal Tug Cacique Rams Cayuco Race Officals Boat

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Some people who were there informed me of this incident. They write: "MARCH 16, 2008 INCIDENT AT ACP DIABLO DOCK, TUG CACIQUE AND YACHT MOLOKAI - The yacht MOLOKAI had been designated the official timing and finish line vessel for the 2008 Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal Cayuco Race. The party of race officials and timers was boarded from the ACP dock at Diablo astern of the crane boat ATLAS at around 1330 and then the MOLOKAI proceeded to the finish line area and anchored to perform its duty as a finish line mark. At the finish of the race the timers and officials completed their work and then the MOLOKAI proceeded to the ACP dock to debark. At 1745, having just made fast to the dock, the MOLOKAI was debarking the officials and the APC tug CACIQUE came around the end of the dock from the Canal and proceeded to blow it’s whistle apparently to clear MOLOKAI out of the area that the tug operator wanted to tie up to. (more)

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Panama Canal Seriously Backed Up ($hips Waiting to Pass Through)

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - More than 100 ships are waiting in the anchorages of the Panama Canal in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, waiting for a turn to pass through the "big ditch," Panama-Guide.com has learned. Some ships have been waiting for more than eight days and delays can significantly increase shipping costs. Regularly scheduled maintenance and repair work on the Panama Canal can often create backups and delays but there have been no major lane outages recently. The most recent Monthly Canal Operations Summary (February 2008) shows that the next significant lane outage is not scheduled until August of 2008. (more)

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Third in a Series about the Canal in the 21st Century: Panama Canal By Night

Canal Daily OperationBy Els Kroon for Allatsea.net - While undergoing a huge expansion program, the Panama Canal is currently in the worldwide spotlight. When the chance to cross the Canal on a cargo ship fell to my lot last September, I didn’t hesitate for a second and started preparing and gathering information at once. The story of the current expansion can be read in All At Sea’s January 2008 issue, and Nedra Walker told our readers in the December issue about her experiences transiting the canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific on a 36 ft sailboat. (See www.allatsea.net for both articles.) Transiting on a 300 ft cargo ship in the opposite direction is a different story! (more)
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Panama Canal Authority sees revenue growth in 2008

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Revenue from Panama Canal transit fees are expected to increase by about 10 percent in 2008, despite likely slower growth in world trade, the Panama Canal Authority said on Tuesday. Toll revenues should reach $1.30 billion this year, compared with $1.18 billion in 2007, Authority analyst Rodolfo Sabonage said at an event. Many of the gains are expected to come from increased transit fees. In January, the Authority reported that toll revenue had increased in the previous three months by about 8 percent to $300 million, despite a drop in transits resulting from high oil prices and slower growth in U.S. demand. The Panama Canal accounts for about 20 percent of Panamanian gross domestic product and its toll revenue accounts for a sizable chunk of the national budget. (Reporting by Andrew Beatty; Editing by Braden Reddall)
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Panama Canal Bidding Fraud Case Involves Nephew of Supreme Court Judge

Canal Daily OperationBy Santiago Fascetto for La Prensa - The Panama Canal Authority filed a complaint before the Public Ministry denouncing a supposed fraud of more than $700,000 dollars. The primary suspect is Igor Tello Spadafora, an ACP employee and nephew of Supreme Court Magistrate Winston Spadafora. Tello Spadafora won, through the company TPM Suppliers S.A., 261 licitations thanks to key information he handled as part of his position within the ACP. But the case, headed by the Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Yolanda Austin and the judge of the 15th Criminal court Georgina Tuñón could be diluted. The lawyers of the implied one presented a criminal complaint against both the prosecutor and judge. The lawyers accuse the prosecutor and judge of violating private correspondence of their client after a search of the TPM Suppliers company offices. In addition, they filed a request to protect the due process in favor of their client with the First Superior Court, saying that as Spadafora's nephew they are acting quickly against him.
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U.S. downturn hits Panama canal trade in 4th qtr

Canal Daily Operation PANAMA CITY, Jan 30, (Reuters) - Trade through the Panama Canal dipped in the last three months of 2007 amid a downturn in the U.S. economy and high oil prices, canal officials said. The tonnage passing through the canal dropped 2 percent to 79.0 million PC/UMS tonnes from 80.6 million PC/UMS tonnes in the same quarter in 2006. PC/UMS is Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System, which gauges the total net volume of the ships. The number of ships transiting the canal was also down in the same period, falling 1.4 percent to 3,518. Canal officials say the figures point to a drop in the volume of manufacturing exports to the United States, in response to slowing consumer demand. "Soaring oil prices and a general economic downturn, including the U.S. housing crisis, the credit crunch and the dollar (weakness) have impacted global production and trade," said Rodolfo Sabonge, vice president for research and market analysis at the Panama Canal Authority, said late on Tuesday. The 94-year-old canal is the principal shipping route between China and the eastern seaboard of the United States. (Reporting by Andrew Beatty; Editing by Walter Bagley)
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Panama Canal Updates Marine Service Fees

Canal Daily Operation PANAMA CITY, Panama, January 25, 2008 – Every day at the Panama Canal, critical services are performed by tugboats, linehandlers and locomotives, securing and guiding vessels into the locks. These and other marine services are somewhat behind-the-scenes but they play an integral role in ensuring that each vessel has a safe, reliable and efficient transit. As the popularity of Panamax vessels has increased, marine services have grown in importance. Since these Panamax vessels are 106 feet wide and the locks are 110 feet wide, state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained personnel are essential to usher these vessels through the waterway. Nearly 50 percent of Canal transits are Panamax vessels. (more)
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Panama Canal Ushers in New Fiscal Year Setting Transit Record

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY, November 15, 2007 – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) opened the 2008 fiscal year (October 1 – September 30) setting a monthly transit record in October for ships spanning 900 feet or more in length. A total of 164 ships of these dimensions transited the Canal last month, breaking the previous record of 159 ships, achieved in December 2006. Additionally, the daily average for registered ships 900 feet or more in length transiting the Canal in October was 5.29 per day, surpassing the previous record of 5.17 per day, reached in November 2006. (more)
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ACP Announces 2007 Metrics - Total Transits Up

Canal Daily Operation
A Ship in the Locks of the Panama Canal
A Ship in the Locks of the Panama Canal
PANAMA CITY, Panama, October 29, 2007 – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced its operational metrics for the 2007 fiscal year (FY 07) today. Year-end (October – September) statistics reveal a drop in Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to navigate the Canal including waiting time. The numbers show a rise in total annual tonnage, evidenced by the Canal’s record-breaking achievement surpassing the 300 million ton mark. The Panama Canal set another transit record last September by ushering through 25 Panamax ships (the largest vessels able to transit the Canal) in one day. (more)
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