Panama Canal Expansion Reaches Major Milestone

The Panama Canal Expansion reached another major milestone with yesterday’s arrival of the final shipment of gates. The gates for the new locks will be used for the Atlantic side of the project, two gates, and two for the Pacific.

The four gates arrived on board the Post-Panamax vessel Xia Zhi Yuan 6, owned by COSCO Ocean Shipping, after a 25-day voyage from the Port of Trieste, Italy. The gates arrived to the temporary dock located in the Atlantic side.

This is an historic day for the Panama and the Canal,” said Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela during a brief ceremony commemorating the arrival of the gates. “We are now in the homestretch to complete the Expansion.”

Now we have all 16 rolling gates in Panama to be installed in the new locks,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. “With this Expansion, the Panama Canal will remain competitive, opening new markets and possibilities for international trade through the waterway.”

The two gates to be installed in the Pacific locks are the tallest of all 16, standing 33 meters in height and weighing 4,232 tons. These gates will be used in lock head four facing the Pacific Ocean. The remaining two, to be installed in the Atlantic locks, are 10 meters wide, 29 meters in height and weigh 3,319 tons.

All gates have the same length of 57.6 meters but vary in height, width and weight depending on their location in the locks. The height of the tallest gate can be compared to an 11-story building.

The construction of the gates began in October 2011 by subcontractor Cimolai SpA in Italy. The new locks will have a total of 16 rolling gates (eight for each new lock complex).

The gates belonging to the Pacific have been transiting one by one through the current waterway on board a barge assisted by two Panama Canal tugboats. Currently, four of the eight gates have already been transferred to the construction site in the Pacific.

The gates were delivered to Panama in staggered shipments of four at a time. The first shipment arrived on August 20, 2013. The second and third shipment arrived on June 10, 2014 and September 7, 2014.

The Panama Canal Expansion consists on the construction of a third lane of traffic allowing the passage of bigger vessels, which will double the Canal’s capacity and have an important impact on world maritime trade.

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