Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crowley Barge Aiding Canal Expansion

By Mark Edward Nero

Crowley Maritime Corp.’s heavy lift barge 455-4 has successfully delivered the first in a series of new gates for the ongoing Panama Canal expansion, Crowley said Oct. 25.

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 construction dock built to receive the gates 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 tugs and made the transit in just one day.

Crowley is scheduled to help transport all eight of the gates involved in the Pacific side lock expansion of the canal.

“Crowley provided Sarens the barge to complete this important step in the historical expansion of the Panama Canal,” Crowley Solutions Group Vice President John Ara, said.

The 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. The barge is scheduled to transport three more gates during both November and December.

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 16 gates which, when complete, will increase efficiency and allow larger, post-Panamax ships and extended width barges to traverse the canal.