The 8,500-TEU container ship Xin Fei Zhou hit a wall while transiting the locks at Agua Clara on the Atlantic side of the canal last month. The Authority cited bad weather as the cause, but it denies reports of two other accidents where vessels hit fenders. Contacting fenders during approaches to the locks or inside the chambers of the locks is normal, says the Authority, claiming that the way incidents involving the Lycaste Peace and COSCO Shipping Panama were reported was incorrect.
“In both of these cases, neither is considered an incident or accident. In fact, contacting fenders during approaches to the locks or inside the chambers of the locks is normal, expected, and it is the reason for installing fenders on areas where contact is expected.”
A study published earlier this year by the International Transport Workers’ Federation released claimed that the dimensions of the new locks are too small to be safe in some circumstances. The Panama Canal Authority, however, dismissed the report.
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