Panama, December 4, 2001 – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) awarded a $10,626,595 contract to the Canadian company Irving Shipbuilding, for the construction of two tugboats. The units arrived at the Port of Cristobal, in Panama, on November 14, 2001, from Prince Edward Island, Canada. They were named Coclé and Colón, after two provinces in Panama that have areas in the Canal watershed. After the arrival, the tugboats were transferred to Miraflores Locks for the installation of fenders and radio systems.

The acquisition is part of the Canal’s modernization and improvement program, which aims to increase the waterway capacity by 20 percent.

The contract between the ACP and Irving Shipbuilding includes an option for the purchase of two additional tugboats for $11,073,602, in 2002. The new tugboats are made of steel and they use Schottel Azimuth stern drive propulsion units. They also have 4,4000 horsepower capacity Deutz engines. These aspects enable the ACP to provide a better quality service to its customers.

Tugboats assist vessels during their Canal transits, especially at the locks entrance and exit, and during their journey through Gaillard Cut, where great maneuverability and power is required.

With this new acquisition, the Canal tugboat fleet was augmented to 22 units, but the goal of the modernization program is to reach 24 units by the end of fiscal year 2002.

The official launching of the Coclé and Colón took place on December 4, 2001.