VIDEO: Flooding of Panama Canal’s New Locks

Last Thursday, the crews working on the the Panama Canal project celebrated another important milestone bringing the Expansion scheme one step closer to completion.

Working on the project for the past seven years culminated with the flooding of the Third Set of Locks, last phase before the official opening of the canal. The start of the filling process is a deliberate and methodical phase of operational tests that must be performed before the new locks can be brought online.

When fully flooded, the same process will then fill the rest of the Atlantic sections of locks, reaching a water level of 27 meters above sea level. Tests and inspections are expected to take approximately four months.

The Third Set of Locks is one of the biggest engineering project in the world. The new canal will allow for the transit of ships that are nearly 400 meters long with a capacity of up to 14,000 containers – or 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) – three times the amount carried by ships that pass through the existing canal. The project has seen the excavation of 50 million metric cubes of earth, the pouring of five million metric cubes of concrete, the use of 290,000 tonnes of iron and the work of more than 10,000 workers. The giant sluice doors are – on average –about 30 meters tall, 10 meters wide and 58 meters long. Each weighs more than 3,000 tonnes.

Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S.A. (GUPC), the main contractor responsible for the design and construction of the Panama Canal’s third set of locks, won the largest contract under the Panama Canal’s $5.25 billion expansion program. The consortium includes Spain’s Sacyr Vallehermoso, Italy’s Salini Impregilo, Belgian Jan de Nul Group and Panama’s Constructora Urbana SA.