The Panama Canal has received the first two of 14 tugboats that will help strengthen the waterway’s capacity for the operation of its third set of locks.
Cerro Itamut and Cerro Picacho are part of the new fleet of 14 tractor tugs that will be arriving within the next 12 months from Spain. The two were christened in Gatun Landing near the Atlantic side of Panama. Astilleros Armon, a Spanish shipbuilding company, won the contract to build the 14 vessels in September 2011 after an open tender process.
“[The tugboats] will help us prepare to face the challenge of operating the new set of locks with the same efficiency,” said Jorge L. Quiijano, Panama Canal administrator, in a written statement.
The Panama Canal now has 39 tugboats in its fleet, but toward the end of next year and after retiring certain older tugs, it will have a fleet of 44 tugboats. The extra tugboats will be used to assist post-Panamax ships transiting the expanded Panama Canal.