PANAMA CITY, Panama, March 21, 2006 –Demonstrating its ability to handle the ever-increasing demand for its waterway, thePanama Canal Authority (ACP) announced today that two records were set last week: one in total Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage and another in transits of “super” vessels, those ships 91 feet or more in beam. Moreover, the ACP nearly matched a third record when 23 Panamax size ships, the largest vessels that can pass through the Canal, transited the waterway, just shy of the current record of 24.

“Setting these records is a team effort and proof of the Canal’s creativity, focus and commitment to reliability. The hard work by Canal employees has translated into better service for our customers and enhanced capacity,” said ACP Maritime Operations Director Jorge L. Quijano. “We are proud of these accomplishments – everyday we are setting the bar higher for excellence.”

On Monday, March 13, a record 1,070,023 PC/UMS tons transited the waterway. This breaks the record of 1,006,807 set on March 16, 2004. A total of 46 vessels, comprised of super and regular ships, transited the record tonnage.

Additionally, another record was set on Sunday, March 12, in transits of super vessels.

Twenty-seven super vessels transited the Canal in one day. The previous record of 26 was set on May 4, 2005. The daily average is 19 supers per day. A majority of the 27 super vessels were dry bulk carriers and container ships, more specifically: nine dry bulk carriers, eight container ships, six tankers, one vehicle carrier and t hree other vessel types. Due to their wide beams (width) and length overall, supers have greater restrictions and limitations and require more resources and time to transit.

“We have assigned additional crews to the locks to continue to achieve daily maximum capacity, and have deployed all available tugs, linehandling crews and Pilots to guarantee the waterway’s reliability. The workforce has responded in unison and with resolve to meet the challenge,” said Mr. Quijano.

The Canal continues to push forward with initiatives under its Permanent Modernization Program, which contains projects designed to increase capacity. Current projects under development within the program include: the deepening of Gatun Lake and the Atlantic and Pacific entrances, the construction of a second Tie-up station in the Gaillard Cut and the further widening and straightening of the Gaillard Cut. With these projects, the ACP is maximizing the Canal’s resources with the goal to attain 330 million PC/UMS tons over the next two years.

About the Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal Authority is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the Panama Canal Authority is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the Panama Canal Authority’s Web site:

The Authority’s responsibility to the Panamanian people is paramount. The Canal belongs to the people and benefits from the Canal should accrue to as many Panamanians as possible. The Authority will plan its future so that it will continually contribute to the economic development and welfare of the citizens of Panama.