The first four gates for the Panama Canal’s new, larger locks have arrived in Colon, Panama in what is being called a major milestone in the expansion of the vital waterway.
Authorities with the Panama Canal said that the new gates arrived Tuesday morning on board the semi-submersible heavy lift vessel, STX Sun Rise from the port of Trieste, Italy.
Built by subcontractor Cimolai SpA, the first four gates are 57.6 m long, 10 m wide and 30.19 m high, and weigh an average of 3,100 tons. The gates will be unloaded onto a temporary dock and eventually transported to their final position in the middle chamber of the new Atlantic side locks using self-propelled motorized wheel transporters (SPMTs).
The new locks will have a total of 16 rolling gates (eight for each new lock complex), unlike the current canal which uses miter gates. The remaining 12 gates will be shipped four at a time from Italy and are expected by the end of 2014.
The expansion of the Panama Canal involves the construction of a third set of gates that will allow for the passage of Post-Panamax vessels, which will double the Canal’s capacity. The expansion project is currently 62 percent complete, according to figures released by the Panama Canal Authority.