Panama Canal – Quick Reference (Regulations)
The maximum permissible draft for Canal transits has been set at 39.5 feet (12.04 m) Tropical Fresh Water (TFW). Gatun Lake density is 0.9954 gms/cc at 85°F (29.4°C) deepest point of immersion/load line permitting to those vessels previously approved to transit at this draft.
NOTE: Not all vessels are allowed to transit at a draft of 39’06” (12.04m) TFW. Some vessels due to hull configuration has restricted draft. Please approach this office to ensure your vessel is approved to transit at published draft.
Minimum Draft (vessels in ballast) All vessels transiting the Canal should have sufficient ballast to permit safe handling during transit LOA / Minimum Drafts Up to 425′ (129.54 m) – Trimmed so pilot can see the ranges over the forecastle from center of the Navigation Bridge
- Over 425′ (129.54 m) – 8′ (2.44 m) forward, 14′ (4.30 m) aft, TSW
- Over 475′ (144.80 m) – 18′ (5.50 m) forward, 20′ (6.10 m) aft, TSW
- Over 525′ (160.02 m) – 20′ (6.10 m) forward, 22′ (6.71 m) aft, TSW
- Over 580′ (176.80 m) – 22′ (6.71 m) forward, 24′ (7.32 m) aft, TSW
- Over 625′ (190.50 m) – 24′ (7.32 m) forward, 26′ (7.93 m) aft, TSW
All vessels arriving for transit must report their Blind Distance calculated for Tropical Salt Water at conning positions 1, 2 and 3.
The “Blind Distance” is the forward distance from the bow of the vessel to the closest point on the water’s surface which can be seen from all conning positions in the navigation bridge. An observer’s height of eye of 1.80 meters above the bridge deck must be used to determine this distance, and must be reported in ship lengths. The Blind Distance at conning position #1 is not applicable to vessels with centerline cranes.
All transiting vessels or vessels calling at port facilities in Canal waters, whether laden or ballast, shall comply with the following visibility requirements:
- The view of the water surface from any conning position in the navigation bridge shall not be obscured by more than two (2) ship lengths forward of the bow, or 500 meters, whichever is less, under all conditions of draft and trim.
- If the visibility from any of the normal conning positions is obscured by cargo gear or other permanent obstructions forward of the beam, the total arc of obstructed visibility from Conning Position 1 shall not exceed 10 degrees.
Ships of 10,000 gross tonnage (ITC69) and over shall be fitted with two (02) properly functioning radar installations, each capable of being operated simultaneously with and independently of the other.
Ships of 500 gross tons (ITC69) and over shall be fitted with a gyro compass. The master gyro compass or a gyro repeater shall be clearly readable by the helmsman from the main conning position. On ships of 1,600 gross tonnage (ITC69) and over, a gyro repeater or gyro repeaters shall be provided and shall be suitably placed for taking bearings as nearly as practicable over an arc of the horizon of 360 deg. A gyro repeater shall be provided which shall be readily visible and useable by the pilot from Conning Position 1. Maximum residual steady state gyro error shall not exceed 2 deg.
Propeller revolution tachometer indicators
On vessels 80 feet (24.38 m) or more in beam, at least one for each propeller located inside the wheelhouse and one for each propeller located on each bridge wing, of such design and placement so that at least one can be easily read by day or night from each conning position.
Controllable pitch propeller indicators
On vessels 80 feet (24.38 m) or more in beam, at least one for each propeller located inside the wheelhouse and one for each propeller located design and placement so that at least one can be easily read by day or night from each conning position.
Vessels are required to have on deck (positioned in drum) six manila or synthetic mooring lines forward and six aft in good conditions prior to commencing transit. The size and strength suitable for the vessel to dock, moor at a lock approach wall or secure in a lock chamber are the vessel’s responsibility. The master shall inform the Boarding Officer whether or not the vessel complies with the above, so that he may advise Maritime Traffic Control Unit. Wire ropes and ropes composed of both wire and fiber or filaments, are not acceptable for Canal operations and shall not be used. These lines are required to be on deck prior to commencing transit and ready for immediate use. Each line shall be at least 250 feet (75 m) in length and shall have an eye of at least five feet (1.50 m) spliced in one end. If one of these lines is 500 feet (150 m) or more in length with an eye in each end, it will qualify as two lines for the purpose of this requirement. They shall be in good condition. Noncompliance with this requirement could result in transit delay.
Winches / Anchors
All mooring winches shall be capable of retrieving the lines used for pulling the locomotive wires onboard at a rate of 120 feet (37 meters) per minute. The master shall inform the ACP Boarding Officer whether or not the vessel complies with this requirement. Additional Canal deckhands or other resources may be assigned in case of winches are not working or are with limited capabilities. Anchors shall be retrieved at a rate of 3 minutes per shot (27 meters).
Max deviation observed should not exceed 7 degrees. Calibration cards issued and signed by the master will be accepted as long as the deviation is less than 6 degrees. Calibration must have been done by a recognized calibration authority, and an accurate deviation table issued, within the previous 12-month period.
All vessels whose extreme beam is 80 feet (24.38 m) or more are required to provide bridge wing shelter platforms for the protection of control pilots at Conning Positions No. 4 and 5. Alternate arrangements, including portable shelters, which provide equivalent or better protection and visibility, may be acceptable.
Any toll-paying vessel that will transit the Panama Canal with a 400 Metric Ton (MT) or more carrying capacity of oil as cargo and/or fuel must present a PCSOPEP not less than 96 hours prior to the vessel’s arrival at Panama Canal waters. A vessel holding a verified plan does not have to resubmit a PCSOPEP for subsequent transits, unless it is requested by the ACP or it becomes invalidated.
EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 2007, VESSELS FAILING TO SUBMIT A COMPLIANT PCSOPEP AT LEAST 96 HOURS PRIOR TO ARRIVAL AT CANAL WATERS WILL BE CLASSIFIED AS NON-COMPLIANT AND WILL NO LONGER BE GRANTED A GRACE PERIOD. UNDER SUCH CONDITION, THE VESSEL WILL BE SCHEDULED AS TIER 3 AND WILL BE CHARGED ACCORDINGLY, AS WELL AS FOR ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ASSIGNED TO THE VESSEL DUE TO THIS NON-COMPLIANCE. IN ADDITION, THE VESSEL WILL ONLY BE PROGRAMED FOR TRANSIT AFTER THE SHIP OWNERS, OPERATORS OR SHIPPING AGENT HAVE PAID OR PROVIDED SATISFACTORY GUARANTEES FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE APPLICABLE SANCTION, WHICH WILL BE SET AT A MINIMUM OF USD$2,500.00. SUBSEQUENT ARRIVALS TO PANAMA CANAL WATERS UNDER SIMILAR NONCOMPLIANCE CONDITIONS WILL GENERATE INCREASED SANCTIONS THAT MAY RESULT IN DENIAL OF TRANSIT.
The main steering gear and rudder stock shall be capable of putting the rudder over from 35 deg. on one side to 35 deg. on the other side with the ship at its deepest seagoing draught and running ahead at maximum ahead service speed and, under the same conditions, from 35 deg. on either side to 30 deg. on the other side in not more than 28 seconds.
All vessels over 100 meters (328 feet) in length shall have installed, at or near the stem, a fixed blue transit light, which shall be clearly visible from the bridge, along the center line. If said transit light so placed would be partially or completely obstructed, then two such transit lights must be installed at an equal distance from the center line, and shall be clearly visible along lines parallel thereto.
VESSEL MUST REPORT ETA TO PANAMA CANAL WATERS WITH MORE THAN 96 HOURS PRIOR HER ARRIVAL ACCORDING TO SECURITY CODE. VESSELS ARRIVING IN LESS THAN 96 PRIOR TO HER ACTUAL ARRIVAL TIME WILL BE CONSIDERED AS “ARRIVED” FOR SCHEDULING PURPOSES EXACT 96 HRS AFTER THE ETA NOTICE WAS INSERTED ON THE PAN CANAL SYSTEM THEREFORE THIS MIGHT BRING ADDITIONAL DELAYS FOR TRANSIT TO THE VESSEL.
Pre arrival Information
EDCS forms or Electronic froms must be filled out and provided to the agent at least 5 days prior to arrival in order to be submitted on time (more than 96 hrs before arrival) in order to get Radio Pratique Granted and avoid delys to start any additional operation to the tranist such as crew change, deliveries, repairs, bunkering etc.
Transit Prospect and Schedule
There are two options of transit, the Regular Transit (line up) and the Booking Transit.
- For Regular Transit, vessels will be included in the lineup for transit in order of arrival. Depending on the Canal condition and the number of arrivals, a vessel might wait several hours up to several days to be scheduled for transit.
- For Booking Transit, the last chance to try pre book a vessels is on the 3rd period which opens 3 days before desired transit date. Once the booking application is granted, the booking fee is paid immediately and the vessel must arrive prior 0200 HR LT of the booking date (for Supers – beam of 91 feet or over), or 1400 HRS LT (for Regulars – beam under 91 feet without restrictions). Booking fee is forfeited if vessel arrives after the deadline and would be scheduled like a non-pre-booked, in order of arrival. Vessels arriving after the required arrival time/deadline would lose the booking status and would be programmed for transit as a non-pre-booked vessel making the queue with the rest of the non-pre booked vessels based on her actual arrival time.
Transit program is published by the Panama Canal Authorities normally one day in advance.
Preparation to Arrival
- To contact the Signal Station by VHF CH12 when 10 nautical miles before sea buoy for traffic and anchoring instructions; – To prepare pilot ladder 1 (one) meter above the water.
- To prepare Ship’s Information and Quarantine Declaration (SIQD), five copies and have all ships certificates ready for canal inspection. Agent is to board the vessel along with fumigation technician and sanitary inspector to fumigate vessel for Aedes Aegipty Mosquito.
PORT SECURITY AND CONTACTS
PANAMA CANAL AUTHORITIES (ACP)
Cristobal Port Captain
Phone: (507)443-2201 Fax: (507)443-2213
Balboa Port Captain
Phone: (507)272-4215 Fax: (507)272-7688
Traffic Management Unit
Phone: (507)272-4220 Fax: (507)272-3976
ACP Chemists for Dangerous
Cargo Phone: (507)272-4112/4219 Fax: (507)272-3015
PANAMA CANAL SECURITY OFFICER
Name: Juan Hector Diaz (PCSO) Antonio Michel – ALTERNATE
Sergio A. Rodriguez – ALTERNATE
Phone: (507)276-3669/276-3227 Fax: (507)2764777
SECURITY LEVEL: 1