Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Final Panama Canal Gate Installed

By Mark Edward Nero

A key milestone in the Panama Canal Expansion Program has been reached with the installation of the 16th and final gate for the new locks on the Pacific side of the Canal. The Panama Canal Authority said April 28 that the installation process began at noon Panama time on the south end of the Canal’s Pacific locks, which connect directly to the ocean.

The final gate is one of the heaviest and weighs 4,232 tons, or roughly 8.5 million pounds. It measures 57.6 meters (189 feet) wide by 10 meters (32.8 feet) long and 33 meters (108 feet) high, according to the Panama Canal Authority.

“Today’s installation is a key milestone in the Expansion Program and another important step forward for the Canal,” Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said. “Once finished, the expanded waterway will provide new possibilities for world maritime trade and further position the Canal as a reliable route to the industry.”

The new gates, which were built in Italy, first arrived in Panama in four staggered shipments starting in August of 2013. With the installation of the final gate in the Pacific, another important stage begins with the electro-mechanical work, which connects the gates with the other structures in the new locks.

The installation of all eight gates on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal was completed on April 1, according to the Authority. With all 16 gates now installed, the next milestone for the expanded Canal will occur when the lock chambers are flooded.