The Panama Canal Authority awarded Astilleros Armon S.A., a ship building and repairing company based in Spain, a $158.3 million contract to acquire 14 new tugs to increase the current fleet to meet the projected growth of transits on the waterway.

The contract was awarded to the company offering the best value proposal. The tender was opened to wider competition with the participation of 20 companies from countries in South America, Europe and Asia.

The contract involves the construction, testing and staggered delivery of 14 tractor-type tugs of 70 tons, the first of which will be received within 600 days of being awarded.

The tugs will assist larger vessels transiting the Canal current and expand transit operations, anchoring and other maneuvers in the waterway.

The Panama Canal currently has a fleet of 36 tugs to assist more than 14,000 transits every year.

The new Canal will operate with tugboats to assist the transit of ships, unlike the existing canal which uses locomotives.