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October 26, 2010

Bulker is millionth ship to transit Panama

History was made recently when the dry bulk carrier, Fortune Plum, was the 1,000,000th vessel to transit through the Panama Canal since its opening in1914.

STX Pan Ocean appointed GAC Group member Wilford & McKay to handle her passage through the waterway.

The Fortune Plum left China in August carrying approximately 40,000 tons of steel products, heading for the Panamanian port of Cristobal to help meet the local construction industry's demand for building materials.

To reach the port she had to carefully move through the Panama Canal, which enables shipping to move between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans without making the long and sometimes perilous trip around the southern tip of South America.

At 57,000 gt, 32.30 m beam and 189.99 m length, the Fortune Plum is one of the largest vessels that can pass through the waterway. She started her transit from the Pacific Terminal, and completed it 14.7 hours later when she arrived at Miraflores Locks on the Atlantic side.

H.S. Chang, STX Pan Ocean (Americas) Inc., President and CEO, says: "As a long-time customer of GAC-Wilford & McKay, the smooth transit through the Canal confirms their superb tradition of providing quality service and performance."

STX Pan Ocean vessels make approximately 200 transits through the waterway every year.

On the day the Fortune Plum made her historic passage, she was one of a total of 31 vessels that transited. Vessel number 999,999 entered the Gatun locks in the opposite direction, seven minutes earlier than the Fortune Plum entered from the Pacific side.

Five per cent of the world's sea-borne trade passes through the 80 kilometre (50-mile) canal every year. The Fortune Plum has now entered the history books as the millionth transit; the first slot was taken 96 years ago by the SS Ancon.

"It is such an honor for us, both to be one of the oldest ship agents operating at the Canal and to play a part of this milestone transit for one of our best customers," says John Bamber, GAC-Wilford & McKay's President and General Manager.

Wilford & McKay was founded in 1914 by Captain Hugh Wilford and Mr. Scott McKay and at that time was primarily dedicated to the Canadian lumber trade that was an early beneficiary of the possibilities opened up by the canal.

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