Post-Panamax vessel visits Charleston via canal


Welcoming its first Post-Panamax size ship — a vessel of enormous proportions — to Charleston, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) greeted the Hannover Bridge’s arrival this week after its passage through a newly expanded Panama Canal.

At 1,102 feet long, the Hannover Bridge is one of the largest container vessels in the world. Registered in Panama, it has a Japanese owner and a German name.

Charleston is currently the deepest harbor in the Southeast, routinely handling ships over 1,100 feet long and 150 feet wide with drafts up to 48 feet.

“SCPA is already benefiting from the upsizing of vessels in response to the expansion, with 16 of the 26 weekly container vessel calls in Charleston now being served by large ships formerly known as post-Panamax,” SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome said.

Previous maximum dimensions, first established in 1914, limited cruise ships transiting the Panama Canal to maximum dimensions of 965 feet in length, 106-foot width and 39.5-foot draft (positioned below the waterline). “Post-Panamax” specifications, developed in 2009, allowed for modified measurements to handle vessels with 1,200-foot length, 160-foot width and nearly 50-foot drafts.

“The arrival of the first … vessel to pass through the newly-expanded Panama Canal locks bound for Charleston is a milestone for our port and maritime industry,” Newsome said. “We look forward to seeing this larger class of vessels more frequently in our harbor, which offers the depth and capacity required to serve the biggest ships deployed to the Southeast.”

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