Panama Canal increases vessel draft to 45 feet ahead of schedule and before rainy season arrives

30 May 2024

The Panama Canal has issued an Advisory to Shipping Lines stating that, effective today, it will increase the maximum authorized draft to 45 feet.

This adjustment, originally scheduled to take effect on June 15, is being implemented earlier due to the expected onset of the rainy season in the Panama Canal Watershed and the current and projected levels of Gatun Lake over the coming weeks.

As of May 16, the number of daily transits in the Panamax locks increased from 17 to 24, and starting June 1, the number of daily transits in the Neopanamax locks will increase from 7 to 8.

This adjustment will raise the total number of vessel transits per day to 32.

Since May 26, the water levels of Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes have, for the first time in 2024, risen above those recorded on the same date in 2023, due to the onset of the rainy season.

The Panama Canal monitors the existing weather conditions on a daily basis to implement the necessary operational actions in response to the increased inflows to the watershed.

Image by Panama Canal Authority

Panama Canal Authority press release