Gearing Up for the Panama Canal Opening
In little over two months’ time, the Inauguration Ceremony of the new Panama Canal will mark the completion of the largest infrastructure undertaking in the waterway since the original canal construction back in 1914.
The official opening ceremony of the expanded canal will take place on Sunday, June 26th 2016, reports the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).
The project was initially set to be finished at the end of 2014, but due to some setbacks the date was pushed back to 2016.
According to the ACP, the inaugural transit begins at 7 a.m. at the Agua Clara Locks, on the Atlantic side. In the afternoon, when the ship is about to complete its transit, the inauguration ceremony will be held at Cocoli Locks in the Pacific side.
The President of the Republic of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, high-ranking foreign dignitaries, Panama Canal customers, diplomatic corps, and other special guests will be attending the ceremony.
At the moment, the work on the expansion is 97 percent complete, and that final testing will continue in advance of the June 26 opening ceremony.
With the opening of the new locks, the expanded Panama Canal will allow 1,400 feet long, 140 feet wide and 60 feet deep vessels to travel the waterway.
The new locks will double the canal’s capacity, accommodating vessels of up to 14,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, depending on the vessel design. The current Panamax size is 4,500-5,000 TEUs.