New Positioning System Requirement for Transiting Neopanamax Vessels

New Positioning System Requirement for Transiting Neopanamax Vessels

Effective October 1, 2023, all vessels with a beam of 109 feet (33.2 meters) or more transiting the Panama Canal will be required to have a fixed (non-portable) piloting unit with Real Time Kinematics (RTK) for sub-meter accuracy.

This measure is expected to improve the efficiency of the waterway by eliminating the delays associated with the installation of portable piloting units (PPU-RTK).

The vessel will be responsible to procure, install, configure, and maintain the fixed piloting unit in proper condition. The unit shall be installed and powered to provide the required communication with the pilot’s tablet and the Safe Pilot’s software via wireless network, ensuring a stable and long-range connection in all conning positions during the transit through the Panama Canal.

The compliance of the piloting unit will become part of the vessel’s arrival inspection.

If requirements are not met, a portable piloting unit with Real Time Kinematics (PPU-RTK) will be temporarily installed in the vessel, at an additional cost.

Non-compliance may result in delay of transit and/or additional costs, as well as possible fines.

The cost for a temporary portable piloting unit supplied by the Panama Canal, as well as all other possible costs, will be announced by the authorities in due course.

Even though a portable piloting unit with real time kinematics (PPU-RTK) will be available for rental during a period of time, all Canal customers are encouraged to continue their procurement, configuration and installation process of the fixed RTK antenna to comply with Canal requirement, which costs and time are significantly less compared to possible transit delays and rental cost without it.

The above-mentioned requirement is mandatory, and the following procedure must be followed:

  1. Send an email to when the installation and configuration of the fixed RTK fixed antenna has been completed.
  2. When a vessel with fixed RTK antenna installed announces its visit to the Panama Canal, include the following in the visit remark through the Panama Maritime Single Window (VUMPA for its Spanish acronym): NPU completed.
  3. A minimum of three connections shall be available in the RTK antenna network for Panama Canal usage, while the vessel is in Panama Canal waters. In addition, we recommend designating Wi-Fi channel 11 exclusively for the RTK antenna network.

The Panama Canal authorities are working with several suppliers, which have advised the following:

  1. There is equipment available.
  2. The installation and configuration of the antenna takes less than a day.

The list of evaluated and approved equipment, specifications, installation guide and the frequently asked questions are available on the official Panama Canal website.

All units must be pre-approved by the Panama Canal.

List of evaluated and approved equipment so far:

# BrandModelVendor IDUnit Range
1TrelleborgP311 – 5000
2Navicom DynamicsCanal Pilot21 – 5000

For technical inquires contact

For further information or clarification, please feel free to contact us. Our team remains always at your disposal for a safe and trouble-free passage.

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