Crowley Transports First of Eight New Pacific-Side Gates for Expanded Panama Canal

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Photo courtesy Crowley

Crowley Maritime Corp.’s heavy lift barge 455 4 successfully delivered the first in a series of new gates for the ongoing Panama Canal expansion, marking the arrival of the first new gate on the Pacific side.

Crowley will transport all eight of the gates involved in the Pacific side lock expansion.

The 455 4 was contracted by Sarens, a Belgium-based heavy lift company, to transport the gates from Cristóbal, a port on the Atlantic side of the Canal, to a purpose-built receiving on the canal’s Pacific side. The 105-foot wide barge, currently the largest capable of transiting the Canal, was towed by Panama Canal Authority (ACP) tugs and made the transit in only one day.

The first gate to make the trip is the smallest, standing 22 meters tall and weighing 2,300 tons.

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Photo courtesy Crowley

“Crowley provided Sarens the barge to complete this important step in the historical expansion of the Panama Canal,” said John Ara, vice president Crowley solutions group. “As family-owned, privately-held companies, both keenly focused on safety, integrity and high performance, working together proved to be a successful partnership for a project that the entire world is literally watching.”

Barge 455 4 is one in a series of eight high deck strength barges in Crowley’s fleet able to handle uniform loads up to 4,200 pounds per square foot. In cooperation with Sarens and the Panama Canal Authority (PCA), the barge is scheduled to transport another gate this month followed by three more in both November and December.

Prior to the move, Jensen Maritime, Crowley’s Seattle-based marine engineering and naval architecture firm, worked with Sarens to perform a professional peer review of Sarens’ strength and stability calculations related to the barge and voyage.

The Canal expansion project involves widening the channel and adding a third set of locks, one set on the Pacific and the other on the Atlantic side. The new locks require a total of 16 rolling gates, eight for each side. The gates have been arriving in groups of four from Italy since August 2013.