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Friday, March 25, 2016

Panama Canal Expansion Inauguration Set

By Mark Edward Nero

The expansion of Panama Canal, in progress since 2007, is expected to be officially inaugurated on June 26.

The announcement was made by the Panama Canal Authority the morning of March 23 during an inauguration ceremony for the Canal’s Scale Model Maneuvering Training Facility, which will provide additional hands-on experience to pilots and tugboat captains to operate in the expanded Panama Canal.

Under the Canal expansion, capacity is expected to be doubled via the addition of a new traffic lane allowing more and larger ships to traverse the Canal. The expansion program is currently 97 percent complete, according to the Canal Authority. Final testing’s being conducted in the upcoming weeks, leading up to the official June 26 inauguration.

Panama President Juan Carlos Verela was in attendance at the inauguration ceremony for the Scale Model Maneuvering Training Facility, along with the Panama Canal Board of Directors Chairman Roberto Roy, and other Board members.

The 35.3-acre training facility features two lakes connected by a channel modeled after the Canal’s Culebra Cut. It also features docking bays, replicas of the new and existing locks, gates, and chambers, all at a 1:25 scale.

Additionally, the facility is equipped with a number of scale model Panama Canal tugboats, as well as ships. It also has wave and wind generators to provide a realistic, hands-on training experience for Canal pilots and tugboat captains to prepare them for the opening of the expanded waterway.

“The Scale Model Training Facility will allow us to continue providing world-class service to the global maritime industry, while guaranteeing safe and efficient transits through the soon-to-be inaugurated Expanded Canal,” Panama Canal Authority CEO Jorge Quijano said.