Using its Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS), the ACP notes that it showed a 9.6% increase in tonnage for fiscal 2004 year over year. The increase to 22 million PC/UMS in tonnage is due in large measure to a greater number of transits by Panamax size vessels which have larger capacity than other vessels, at more than 900 feet long, and are able to move more containers at one time.
In late August for example -- as shown in the photograph of two vessels side-by-side -- for the first time, five Panamax ships transited the Gatun Locks consecutively, moving south to the Pacific Ocean. The total time for all of the ships to make the transit was five hours.
In a continuing effort to stay ahead of demands, the ACP has followed a Permanent Modernization Program which includes rehabilitating locomotive tow tracks, deepening Gatun Lake and widening the Gaillard Cut.