The Panama Canal Authority ordered 14 new tugboats in anticipation of more vessel traffic when the canal completes its third set of locks in late 2014.
The authority awarded a $158.3 million contract to Astilleros Armon, a shipbuilding and repair company with shipyards in northern Spain. The contract involves the construction, testing and phased delivery of 14 tractor-type tugs of 70 tons each, the first of which will be received within 600 days of being awarded.
When they are completed the new locks will operate with tugboats to assist the transit of ships, instead of using electric locomotives to tow ships as is done now. The Panama Canal has a fleet of 36 tugs to assist more than 14,000 transits annually.