A new vessel set sail at Port Panama City on Wednesday on its first of many trips to Progreso, Mexico, on the northwest coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The 330-foot container ship “Juan Diego” is the final piece of a three-year fleet upgrade for Panama City shipping company Linea Peninsular, which sends shipments back and forth from Port Panama City to Progreso twice a week.
“This is where we do most of our business, here in Panama City,” said David Humphreys, vice president of Linea Peninsular, which moved its headquarters from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The company’s upgrade began in 2012 and transitioned its fleet from older, smaller ships to newer, larger ones. In addition to its Panama City routes, the company also ships containers between Houston and Progreso.
Alex King, operations manager at Port Panama City, said Linea’s partnership has established the most active container trade with Mexico of any U.S. port.
Linea is the only container line that regularly calls Port Panama City, King said, and also conducts the highest frequency of shipments of the port’s five main shipping carriers.
Panama City has the highest container volume of any port to Mexico, the most active connection to the Yucatan Peninsula, and the highest frequency (of container shipments) to the State of Yucatan … Linea Peninsular is a tremendous asset for the community.
The new ship Juan Diego, along with its sister ships Guadalupe and Progreso, have the capability of carrying 400 20-foot equivalent units and about 400 20-foot containers.
The new ships also have the ability to hold 60 refrigerated containers to transport produce and other food products, an upgrade from the older ships.
The route from Panama City to Progreso takes two days with a 12-man crew. The first weekly shipment arrives at Port Panama City on Monday and departs Wednesday, with the second arriving Friday and departing Sunday.
The ships take about six hours to unload and another six to load, averaging about 20 to 25 container moves per hour.
By VALERIE GARMAN | News Herald Writer
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