WATCH: First of Panama Canal’s Giant New Gates Arrive in Panama

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.┬áThe expansion project is currently 62 percent complete, according to figures released by the Panama Canal Authority.

The first four new gates for the Panama Canal's third set of locks are seen on top of a cargo ship during their arrival to Colon in Colon City August 20, 2013 . The third set of locks has a total of 16 rolling gates, eight for each new lock complex. The new gates weigh an average of 3,100 tons each. They were constructed in Italy. According to Panama Canal authorities the 12 gates remaining are scheduled to arrive before the end of 2014. The expansion project will allow bigger ships to transit, with two new sets of locks, one on the Pacific side and one on the Atlantic side REUTERS/ Carlos Jasso
The first four new gates for the Panama Canal’s third set of locks are seen on top of a cargo ship during their arrival to Colon in Colon City August 20, 2013. REUTERS/ Carlos Jasso