ACP seeks to improve Pacific access

Since May 9 the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has implemented new navigation rules for access to the Pacific Ocean, allowing ships to pass in opposite directions in daylight.

This measure helps alleviate the impact of this restriction on the ports of Balboa (Hutchinson PPC) and PSA Panama, both located at the Pacific entrance of the waterway.

The Port of Balboa will benefit from this measure.

The Port of Balboa will benefit from this measure.

To date nine vessel passes have been carried out in the access channel and the entity hopes that this will contribute to solving the problem posed by the maritime port sector.

The Panama Chamber of Shipping (CMP) had presented to the AMP the problem of restricting ships up to 270 feet involved in port operations.

In view of this situation, the ACP proceeded to implement improvements to the navigation channels to allow safe transit of large vessels.

This determination was taken considering the increase in the size of vessels in Canal waters after the Canal expansion, as well as the increase in the size of those arriving at the ports of Balboa and PSA Panama.

The improvements consisted of the widening and deepening of the channels and improvements to the navigation aids that are used by Canal pilots to navigate.


source from the maritime sector explained that the issue of “Clear Channel” began in 2006 when the first Post-Panamax ships began to call at the port of Balboa, from which they could only sail during daylight hours and occasionally, ships lost connections.

Subsequently, the restriction increased with the navigation of the Neopanamax ships through the new locks, which made the ports of the Pacific entrance of the Canal lose competitiveness.


The ACP estimates that by September 1, after having completed 120 vessel passings, additional navigation rules will be implemented in this area, which will allow a wider range of encounters between vessels in the Pacific sector of the Panama Canal .

It is also anticipated that from May 2020, other restrictions will be removed to allow additional ship encounters.

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