Testing of all systems on the expanded Panama Canal project has been launched, the project’s contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) consortium said.
The testing stage will see gates, valves, electrical and mechanical and hydraulic control systems thoroughly checked over a period of two months before moving to navigation tests. The GUPC is scheduled to test a chartered vessel in the Atlantic locks in April before the project is handed over to the Panama Canal Administration (ACP).
According to Project Director at GUPC, Jose Pelaez, over two thousand tests are to be conduced to check the interoperability between operating systems on both sides of the canal.
The project is entering its final stages now that the repairs on the leaks have been completed on the so-called Cocoli locks.
Now, less than four percent remains to complete the overall project, according to ACP, and the finished canal is expected to be inaugurated in the second quarter of 2016, most likely June.
Separately, the ACP said its tugboat fleet is ready for the operation and the upcoming inauguration of the third set of locks. The fleet consists of 46 units to assist the transit of ships and four to attend dredging operations.
In addition, nine tugs are kept in the reserve fleet, and anticipating the next start of operations of the third set of locks.
World Maritime News Staff