Size & Draft Limitations of Vessels Imprimir E-Mail

a. Size

There are several factors which control the size of vessels that are eligible for Panama Canal transit. The basic factor being the size of the lock chambers which are 1000 feet in length with a width of 110 feet. The size of the lock chambers, the level of water in Gatun Lake and the hull configuration of vessels are thus the controlling factors. The limitations are outlined in a Marine Director's Notice to Shipping, which is issued yearly, and is available from this site in Canal operations, under Notices to Shipping.

b. Transit and air draft restrictions

For the past several years rainfall has allowed the Panama Canal Authority to maintain the Gatun lake level sufficient for a maximum transit draft of 39'06" Tropical Fresh Water deepest point of immersion (thirty nine feet zero six inches) year round. For the sake of good order however, we suggest Owners and Operators monitor the draft situation through this Agency in case a change occurs.

Although not normally considered as a restriction, the Bridge of the Americas spans the Canal at Balboa limiting the maximum air draft to 190 feet at any state of the tide.

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