Panama Canal Expansion Reaches Important Milestones

The Panama Canal Expansion is moving forward to achieve its goal of enhancing the waterway’s capacity in order to provide a better service to customers. To date, the Program registers a 60.4% progress.

“The Panama Canal Expansion will enhance the value of the Panama route,” Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said. “We are focused con the Third Set of Locks project, which is one of the key projects of the Expansion Program.”

The Expansion Program has achieved many important milestones. Both entrances of the Panama Canal are ready for bigger ships, since the deepening and widening of the Atlantic and Pacific access channels have been completed. The dredging of Gatun Lake is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The Pacific Access Channel has reached the design depth and the dam that will divide the new channel from Miraflores Lake is under construction.

The Third Set of Locks project registers a 50 percent progress. The new lock complexes in the Pacific and Atlantic sides will feature three chambers, three water-saving basins per chamber, a lateral filling and emptying system and rolling gates.

The first four new lock gates will be arriving in the country this upcoming August, signaling a very important milestone for the Third Set of Locks project. Each one of the 16 gates required will weight an average of 3,300 tons. Constructed in Italy by subcontractor Cimolai S.p.A, the giant new gates will be unloaded in the Atlantic side of the Canal and rolled off the ship to a specially-constructed reception dock. Unlike the current Canal, which uses miter gates, the expanded Canal will have steel rolling gates.

The Panama Canal is also preparing to face future operations. In June, the Panama Canal received three of the 14 new tugboats that will enhance the Canal’s current fleet. The additional capacity will allow assisting Post-Panamax vessels that will be transiting the expanded Canal, which will not use locomotives like in the existing locks.

The Panama Canal Expansion involves the construction of a third lane of traffic, which will double Canal’s capacity and have an important impact in world maritime trade.

Panama Canal, July 26, 2013

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