Requirements for Panama Canal transit


The Panama Canal authority regularly issues Notices to Shipping with requirements for Panama Canal transit. Latest valid regulations are given in OP Notice to Shipping No. N-1-2016 vessel requirements.

The following drawings must be submitted for evaluation if a vessel is to be modified to meet Panama Canal requirements:

  • general arrangement plan indicating deployed boarding facilities, blue steering light and pilot shelters / platforms
  • mooring arrangement plan including type and SWL of the intended mooring fittings such as chocks and bollards
  • installation drawings of new mooring fittings including supporting structure arrangement below deck
  • wheelhouse arrangement
  • visibility calculations in accordance with ACP visibility requirements

A summarised interpretation of the mooring arrangement requirements is defined in ACP Notice to Shipping N-1-2016, which illustrates the required number, type and location of chocks and heavy bitts. Essentially, the chocks and accompanying heavy bitts intended for towing vessels permitted to transit the new locks should be delivered with an increased safe working load (SWL) of 90t (883kN). Of course, the local supporting structures for these fittings have to be designed to transfer the respective design load.

After class approval, all relevant drawings have to be submitted to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) for acceptance, as only ACP itself is authorised to confirm compliance.

Vessels intending to use both, old and new canal locks, i.e. old locks in ballast and new locks when laden, should clearly indicate this in their application.

It is recommended to study the existing Panama Canal requirements carefully, in particular Sec.30, which describes the required mooring arrangements for transiting the new extended locks.


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  1. Pingback: mi | Requirements for Panama Canal transit | Brittius

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