The expansion of the Panama Canal reached a significant milestone Wednesday with the arrival of the final shipment of gates for the new locks.
“Today 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.”
“This is a major milestone for the Panama Canal Expansion since we now 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 four gates arrived on board the Post-Panamax vessel, MV Xia Zhi Yuan 6, owned by COSCO Ocean Shipping, after a 25-day voyage from the Port of Trieste in Italy. The four gates arrived to the temporary dock located in the Atlantic side, and are expected to be moved into place at the new lock complexes by the end of the year.
The final shipment included two gates to be used in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.
The two gates to be installed in the Pacific locks are the tallest of all 16, measuring 33 meters tall and weighing 4,232 tons, and will be used in lock head four facing the Pacific Ocean.
The two gates 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 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 Canal on board a Crowley-owned barge and under the assistance by two Panama Canal tugboats. Currently, four of the eight gates have already been transferred to the construction site in the Pacific.
Since the August 2013, the 16 new gates have been delivered to Panama in staggered shipments of four at a time. The first shipment arrived on August 20, 2013, followed by the second and third shipment in June 10, 2014 and September 7, 2014, respectively.
The Panama Canal Expansion consists on the construction of a third lane of traffic allowing the passage of larger vessels, which will effectively double the Canal’s capacity. The Third Set of Locks are expected to become operational in January 2016.