Panama Canal’s Third Set of Locks Now ‘Functionally Complete’

A look at the Third Set of Locks and water-saving basins as seen in May 2016. Credit: Panama Canal Authority
A look at the Third Set of Locks and water-saving basins as seen in May 2016. Credit: Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) says it has been informed by its contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S.A. (GUPC) that the Third Set of Locks for the expanded Panama Canal have passed all performance tests, meaning they should be ready to go come inauguration day later this month.

The ACP said that by passing all performance tests the new locks should now be functionally complete to allow the safe, efficient and reliable operation of the new locks in accordance with the provisions of the contract with GUPC.

The news was submitted to the ACP as part of a Report of Functional Completion, and comes two years after the $5.3 billion expansion project was originally scheduled to be delivered.

“The ACP will conduct a detailed review of the submitted report, in order to proceed with appropriate action and respond to the contractor, symbolizing an important milestone towards the inauguration of the new lane on June 26,” the agency said in a press release announcing the completion.

Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano said he was pleased to reach the milestone, adding that progress opens doors for the next stage of familiarizing the workforce with the work and operation of the new locks.

To train for the new locks, the ACP will conduct live tests with a post-Panamax that it has chartered specifically for this purpose. Thus far, pilots and tugboat captain’s have been undergoing simulator training at Canal Authority‚Äôs Center of Simulation, Research and Maritime Development, as well as hands-on training at a new 35-acre scale model training facility that recently opened in March.