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Container Shipping & Trade

Container Shipping & Trade

Expanded Panama Canal boosts US Pacific Northwest ports

Wed 17 Aug 2016 by Rebecca Moore

Expanded Panama Canal boosts US Pacific Northwest ports
The expanded Panama Canal has given an unexpected boost to US west coast ports

The widened Panama Canal is not just benefiting the US East Coast ports but in an unexpected turn of events has also given a boost to the west coast ports of Seattle and Tacoma ‒ a recent first call to these terminals by a new Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics vessel has revealed.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) ‒ the marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma – saw a new high efficiency vessel designed to take advantage of the widened Panama Canal and reduce its carbon footprint recently arrive at its East Blair One terminal in Tacoma.

NWSA said the first-call visit by the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) Thalatta indicates the larger locks in Panama open new opportunities for both roll-on roll-off (roro) and container cargoes moving through the Pacific Northwest.

“The wider Panama Canal provides our gateway with expanded capacity to global markets, particularly in Europe, the Mediterranean and South America,” said Bari Bookout, the NWSA’s chief commercial officer for non-container. “The new locks allow carriers like Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics to develop larger, more efficient vessels to meet customer demand and regulatory requirements.”

The Thalatta is the second in WWL’s High Efficiency roro (HERO) fleet, designed to increase capacity and cargo flexibility while reducing emissions. Its sister ship, Themis, is expected to visit the NWSA in autumn.

At 650 feet long (200 metres) and 120 feet wide (36.5 metres), the Thalatta has capacity to transport up to 8,000 vehicles. The vessel features five liftable decks to allow for multiple configurations and a wide variety of cargoes. 

WWL expects to deploy a total of eight HERO vessels before the end of 2017.

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