US shipping firm Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) owned Isla Bella, the world’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered containership, successfully transited through the Panama Canal for the first time.

The 764ft Marlin-class containership was built as part of a contract awarded to Nassco in December 2012, for the construction of two 3,100 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), LNG-powered containerships at their shipyard in San Diego, California, US.

Panama Canal administrator and CEO Jorge L. Quijano said: “The Isla Bella is a true engineering feat.

“We are honoured that this vessel, with its unique technology, transited the Canal.”

“We are honoured that this vessel, with its unique technology, transited the Canal.”

Under an agreement signed with Sea Star Line in October 2014, the vessels have been chartered to the company to operate between Jacksonville, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Recently, a new safety study of Panama Canal locks was commissioned to Fundacao Homem de Mar (FHM) following the confirmation of a leak on the Panama Canal’s new Cocoli Locks in August this year.

ACP unveiled plans to invest $17bn in a new project that would allow the canal to handle the world’s biggest ships.

The Panama Canal extension, which is scheduled for completion next year, is expected to create a new lane of traffic along the canal through the construction of a set of locks, enhancing the waterway’s capacity.

The expansion project is expected to double the canal’s capacity, having a direct impact on economies of scale and international maritime trade.

The authority is also planning the installation of a fourth set of locks which is expected to serve bigger ships that can carry 20,000 containers.