PANAMA CITY, Panama, June 30, 2005 –Eight new “Z-Tech” tugboats are in store for the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to bolster Canal capacity and provide enhanced towing power. As the number of Panamax size vessel transits increase, the new, more powerful tugboats will provide 82 percent more towing power to navigate these larger vessels. The new tugboats will replace eight tugs of the Canal’s current fleet of 24 units. Three of the new tugboats are scheduled to be delivered in December 2006 and five in January 2008.

Commissioned by PSA Marine, the new tugboats were designed by Robert Allan Limited. Representing a breakthrough in tug technology, the “Z-Tech,” as the new design has been named, combines both the handling of a tractor-style tug and an Azimuth Stern Drive (ASD) tug. Each “Z-Tech” tug measures 27.4 meters in length overall and 11.50 meters in beam. The vessels will have a minimum bollard pull of 60 tons – 82 percent more towing power than the vessels the new tugs will replace. Moreover, the engines of the new tugboats have the capacity to accelerate from standstill to full ahead within 12 seconds, without heavy smoking.

“We are extremely excited to acquire these technologically advanced tugboats. The higher horsepower and maneuverability of these tugs will reduce the time taken by vessels on their approach to the locks, thus increasing Canal capacity. The tugs will be invaluable in transiting the ever increasing number of Panamax size vessels that use the Panama Canal. They will be an outstanding asset to Canal operations,” said Panama Canal Authority Maritime Operations Director Jorge L. Quijano.

Part of the ACP’s permanent modernization program, the new tugboats will enhance the waterway’s safety, reliability and efficiency. Projects within the program include: the replacement of the locomotive tow tracks; the implementation and upgrading of the Automatic Identification System (AIS), a sophisticated navigation system to better monitor ships and route traffic for safety and security purposes; the addition of a new launch; the Automated Data Collection System; and the deepening of the Gatun Lake and the Atlantic and Pacific channels.

About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s website: http://www.pancanal.com/.

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.