Information

Panama Canal Tugboats



Fueling Along the Canal

The pumps in this specific application are transporting diesel fuel from the terminal to a tank farm, whereby the fuel can then be supplied to the fueling stations. As an added benefit, the tank farm will also supply fuel to the co-generation plant that provides power to the locks. CANFF-22, a local engineering firm collaborated with the managers at the Panama Canal and the engineers at Carver Pump to determine a perfect solution.

After a thorough evaluation of the system design requirements, API Maxum OH2 horizontal end suction pump was selected. The Maxum 8x6x13 pumps with 50-horsepower were installed and are in dual service with one main pump running continuously, and the other acting as a back-up. Intended to handle 1,200 gallons per minute at 117 feet of head, the main pump transports diesel oil at 0.87 specific gravity. The perpetual need for diesel for the tugboat fueling stations and the power plant is why this pump is perfect for this application.


20 Photos of the Construction of the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is 48-mile long, artificial waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. The canal greatly reduced the time it takes ships to go between the two oceans by enabling them to avoid the long, dangerous rout around Cape Horn. The canal has locks at each end in order to lift ships up to the Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the requisite excavation work the canal would have required. The canal is 85 feet above sea level, and originally were 110 feet wide (they were widened by a third in 2007 and the project was finished in May, 2016).

France began work on the Panama Canal in 1881, and the idea was inspired by the diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, who constructed the Suez Canal. Lesseps wanted a sea-level canal. His planning did not take into account the wet season and the Chagres River rising 35 feet, the dense jungle, the snakes, spiders, insects, yellow fever and malaria which killed thousands of workers. By 1884, the death rate was over 200 per month. Eventually the project went bankrupt in 1889 after spending $287 million and losing 22,000 workers. In the ensuing scandal known in France as the Panama Affair, Lesseps and his two sons, among other stakeholders including Gustave Eiffel, were charged with misappropriation of funds and sentenced to five-years imprisonment (Lesseps, 88 at the time, did not serve any prison time).

In June 1902, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of purchasing the contracting rights for the Panama Canal for $40 million. The Hay-Herran Treaty, which granted the United States a renewable lease from Colombia on the land proposed for the canal, was signed and ratified by the United States but the Colombians wouldn&rsquot sign. The French manager of the New Panama Canal Company, Phillipe Bunau-Varilla, told Roosevelt that a Panamanian revolution was imminent. If America backed the rebels and recognized Panama as a sovereign state, the Panamanian government would sign. On November 3, 1903, with America&rsquos help, Panama declared independence.

In 1904, the United States purchased the French equipment and excavations for $40 million, $30 million of which was related the completed excavations at $1 per cubic yard. In 1905 a US engineering panel recommend the U.S. abandon the sea level plan and pursue a lock system to raise and lower ships. The excavations of the locks required moving more than 170 million cubic yards of material in addition to what the French had completed. The construction of the canal was completed in 1904 costing the United States $375 million ($9.2 billion). The American and West-Indian death toll during American construction is officially 5,609 lives bringing the total deaths during the project to 27,609 people

In 1977, Jimmy Carter oversaw the Torrijos-Carter Treaty which provided for relinquishing the Canal to Panama. On December 31, 1999, Panama assumed command of the waterway and the canal continues to be a chief source or revenue for Panama.

This photo showing the huge cuts made in the landscape was taken from the book The Panama Canal by J. Saxon Mills and published in the early 1900s. Daily Mail Workers on the Panama Canal project deal with a landslide, which was one of the main issues faced alongside flooding and diseases. Daily Mail By 1905, more than 17,000 construction workers were employed. West Indians—half of whom were from Barbados—totaled 20 percent of the workforce, accounting for more than all the Americans and Europeans combined. National Geographic Labor—cheaper than could be found in the United States or locally in Panama—arrived by the boatful from as far away as Europe. Pictured here is a group of Italians. National Geographic By the time the raised-canal plans were accepted, more than 27,000 workers had perished from the likes of malaria, yellow fever and dysentery. Daily Mail A panoramic view of the construction on the Gatan Lock. Canal Museum Panama Canal construction. Pinterest Panama Canal Railroad. 40,000 men were hired to help build. American History USA Chamber cranes in Pedro Miguel Locks during construction of the Panama Canal. Daily Mail Construction workers pose inside an 18-foot wall culvert at Gatun Locks construction site. The Gatun Locks are a series of three locks of the Panama Canal that raise the water level 85 feet, connecting Limon Bay to the man-made Gatun Lake. Daily Mail


Exclusive: Panama Canal to use up to five tugboats

The Panama Canal will use up to five tugboats to ensure safe navigation for vessels once inaugurated on June 26, according to captain Miguel Rodriguez, chairman of the board of inspectors at the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

Although it was previously considered that the canal could use up to four tugboats, Rodriguez said in an interview with CM: “We could go up to five tugboats depending on the size, weight and manoeuvrability of the ship.”

“However the procedures we have prepared to take vessels through the new locks are not written in stone,” he added. “If we need to change them, we’ll change them.”

The scenario involving five tugboats would position one boat in front of the vessel, two boats behind it (including the extra one), and in the same manner as done today in the existing locks – two on the sides assisting.

While the canal’s existing locks use locomotives to help position the vessel in the chamber, the new locks will use one tugboat in front of the vessel and one or two behind it to assist the vessel during the lockage.

The canal had faced criticism over its safety procedures from an independent study commissioned by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) although the ACP since dismissed the claims as lacking “scientific accuracy and credibility”.

Rodriguez expressed appreciation for the ITF’s concerns regarding the safety of the Canal, but said that while the study had used a similar simulator, it lacked the amount and quality of input data required to produce highly accurate conclusions.

“You can have a very good simulator, but if you want quality results, you need to have very good data of the canal itself, of the shoreline, the bank effects, suction, cushion, currents, winds, to make the simulation is realistic,” he stated. “On top of that you need good models of the ships to interact with the data from the bank and the terrain. Plus good data of the locks. They would not have the data that we have collected during many years of studies, tow tank simulations, and real life measurements.”

Rodriguez reiterated that the ACP had undertaken hundreds of studies over the past 10 years, which were used to design the locks and navigational channels. This data was fed into simulators and was used to design and build the recently inaugurated US$8m Scale Model Manoeuvring Training Facility, which complements training completed at the canal’s Centre for Simulation, Research and Maritime Development.

He further disputed inferences that the locks’ dimensions are too small for safe operation, stating that 1,500 ft is adequate to accommodate a vessel with the maximum allowed dimensions and its accompanying tugboats.

If the two sets of gates in front of and behind the ship are closed, the space in between them is 1,400 ft long, he said, but the locks will operate with one gate at the back open, leaving 1,500 ft of open space.

According to Rodriguez, the biggest ships allowed to transit the new locks will be 1,200 ft long, allowing 150 ft of open space behind and in front of the vessel, for each 95 ft-long tugboat.

Regarding the ITF-commissioned study’s appraisal that there were no refuge areas for tugboats inside the lock, he said: “I can tell you that our system is the same type of system that everybody else has meeting the industry standard.”

Rodriguez also disagreed that the bollard pull of the tugboats would be insufficient, noting: “Our tugboats are 82 tonnes of bollard pull, and we’re requiring ships to have chocks and bitts with at least 90 tonnes of safe working load in order to qualify for the new locks.”

In addition in preparation for the inauguration of the expanded canal, the ACP has chartered a Neopanamax dry bulk vessel, which is scheduled to arrive at the canal the week of June 7.

“The vessel, which is 43 m in beam 255 m in length, will be utilised to train pilots, tugboat masters, line handlers and locks personnel on-site, while performing several lockages per day, up and down the Atlantic-facing locks,” Rodriguez said.

This will further prepare the canal for the “reliable, safe transit of vessels and canal workers”, he hopes.

However, this does mean that the inauguration will not be the first transit through the expanded waterway.


Panama Canal


Housed in a one-room former colonial church in Panama City's rundown Calidonia district, the Panamanian West Indian Museum has championed the memory of the canal's black work force since the museum opened in 1981.

"The Americans were known for their engineering skill," said Melva Lowe Goodin, the museum's president. "But it was the West Indians who gave the sweat and the blood."

Black Labor On A White Canal


For the black workers from Barbados, Jamaica and Martinique who made up two-thirds of the canal's labor force, the work was hard, dangerous and indifferently paid.

"My father came here in 1904 to dig the ditch. Back then it was just jungle and mosquitoes," Haynes recalled with a smile.

White employees of the Canal Commission were given comfortable housing, while many black workers lived in railway boxcars or shacks in the forests bordering the work site.

In the early years, malaria and yellow fever were rife and accidents were frequent. Records at the wooden museum show that of 5,600 employees killed by disease and accidents between 1904 and the project's completion 10 years later, 4,500 were black.




"Many workers went deaf as a side effect of the heavy doses of quinine they were required to take to treat malaria," Lowe Goodin said. "They just didn't hear the shouted warnings to get out of the way."

Canal Zone Caste SystemMore than seven decades after drawing his first paycheck, Haynes recalls the two-tier pay system that led to segregation of white and black workers in the U.S.-controlled Canal Zone.

"While white workers were paid on the gold roll, in U.S. dollars, we were all paid on the silver roll in local currency," he said.

Silver roll employees had to drink at separate drinking fountains and stand at different lines in the post office under what one observer called the "Canal Zone caste system."
The Canal Zone, a 10-mile(16-km)-wide security strip the length of the waterway, was run under U.S. federal laws, with its own court system and police force, until it reverted to Panamanian control in 1979.

"You couldn't go into gold roll shops," Haynes said. "And after working hours you couldn't be seen in the zone. You would be arrested for loitering or trespassing."

Black workers were classed as "helpers" although they might be qualified in a range of canal-related trades and were paid at half the rate of white co-workers.

American Experience The Panama Canal

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The New Panama Canal: A Risky Bet

PANAMA CITY — On July 8, 2009, the champagne finally flowed.

After an intense two-year competition, a consortium led by a Spanish company in severe financial distress learned that its rock-bottom bid of $3.1 billion had won the worldwide competition to build a new set of locks for the historic Panama Canal.

The unlikely victors toasted their win at La Vitrola, a sleek restaurant in an upscale neighborhood east of downtown Panama City. Within days, executives of the four-nation consortium, Grupo Unidos por el Canal, flew to Europe to begin planning the project.

This time, there would be no champagne. Disputes quickly erupted over how to divide responsibilities. Some executives appeared not to fully grasp how little money they had to complete a complex project with a tight deadline and a multicultural team whose members did not always see things the same way.

Internal arguments soon gave way to bigger problems. There would be work stoppages, porous concrete, a risk of earthquakes and at least $3.4 billion in disputed costs: more than the budget for the entire project.

Seven years later, and nearly two years late, the locks have finally been declared ready to accept the new generation of giant ships that carry much of the world’s cargo but cannot fit in the original canal. To mark the occasion, Panama has invited 70 heads of state to watch on Sunday as a Chinese container ship becomes the first commercial vessel to attempt the passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific through the larger locks.

For more than 100 years, the canal has been a vital artery nourishing the world economy, a testament to American engineering and one of the signature public works of the 20th century. The new locks, built by Panama without help from other governments, were sold to the nation and the world as a way to ensure that the canal remained as much of a lifeline in the hyperglobalized 21st century as it was in the last.

But when the speeches and the celebrations end, one inescapable fact will remain: The expanded canal’s future is cloudy at best, its safety, quality of construction and economic viability in doubt, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

In simple terms, to be successful, the new canal needs enough water, durable concrete and locks big enough to safely accommodate the larger ships. On all three counts, it has failed to meet expectations, according to dozens of interviews with contractors, canal workers, maritime experts and diplomats, as well as a review of public and internal records.

The low winning bid, a billion dollars less than the nearest competitor’s, made 𠇊 technically complex mega-project” precarious from the outset, according to a confidential analysis commissioned by the consortium’s insurer. “There is little room in the budget for execution errors or significant inefficiencies,” the analysts, from Hill International, wrote in 2010, adding, “This is a high-risk situation.”

Among the biggest risks is the concrete that lines the walls of the six mammoth locks punctuating the path between the seas.

Last summer, water began gushing through concrete that was supposed to last 100 years but could not make it to the first ship. The Hill analysts had warned that the consortium’s budget for concrete was 71 percent smaller than that of the next lowest bidder. The budget also allotted roughly 25 percent less for steel to reinforce that concrete.

Then there is the lock design. Tugboat captains say they cannot safely escort the larger ships because the locks are too small with too little margin for error, especially in windy conditions and tricky currents. In fact, in a feasibility study obtained by The Times, the Panama Canal Authority had earlier concluded that the tugs needed significantly more room.

The tugboats themselves are a problem, especially the 14 new boats purchased from a Spanish company, mostly for the expanded locks. To maneuver safely, they must be precisely controlled, but according to captains, they are so unstable that they operate best going backward, something that cannot be done while towing ships through the canal.

“The Spanish tugs are perfectly awful,” said Iván de la Guardia, the head of the tugboat captains’ union. Confidential documents obtained by The Times show that the canal authority bought the tugboats for $158 million from a company later represented by the son of Jorge L. Quijano, the canal’s administrator.

The new locks exist for one reason: so that huge “neo-Panamax” ships can move far greater quantities of cargo through the canal. For them to do that, the waterway must remain deep enough so that fully laden ships do not hit bottom. But canal officials discounted warnings that they needed new sources of water, and during a recent drought, shippers had to significantly lighten their loads.

Canal officials had assured the country that no new reservoirs were needed. Later, Mr. Quijano took to scolding Panamanians for using too much tap water, which comes from the same freshwater lake that supplies the canal.

Ships are elevated by locks to the level of the

artificial lake and glide across on a 50-mile water bridge.

Ships are elevated by locks to the level of the artificial lake and glide across on a 50-mile water bridge.

Ships are elevated by locks to the level of the artificial lake and glide across on a 50-mile water bridge.

The consequences will be wide-ranging if the canal does not deliver as promised. American grain and soybean farmers and producers of liquefied natural gas, for example, may find it harder to sell to Asian customers. Asian manufacturers may forsake the struggling ports on America’s East Coast for those in the West. Or they, and ultimately consumers, will shoulder the added cost of going the long way around, through the Suez Canal.

At the same time, the canal’s success may be undercut by external forces: chiefly the slowdown in global trade, especially from China.

At the center of the story is the Panama Canal Authority, which oversaw the design of the new locks and chose the winning bidder. In a small country dominated by an old-money elite, where the very lifeblood is the canal, the authority is a power center unto itself, a government within a government.

The canal authority says that while any large, complex project is bound to encounter unexpected problems, the new locks are sound and safe.

“We can have a difference of opinion over one point or another,” said Roberto Roy, the president of the canal’s board of directors. “The one thing over which we cannot disagree is that the canal is a project that will bring an enormous amount of benefits to the public.”

Mr. Quijano said that in tests this week, canal workers were “performing the lockages with a high grade of precision and have maintained the highest standards of safety.” He added: “This is one of Panama’s finest hours. The country is elated.”

The consortium’s chief executive, Giuseppe Quarta, said tests had proved the group’s “technical ability in delivering a high-quality, fully functioning project.”

A trouble-free canal would cast a favorable light on a country embarrassed by government scandal and by the Panama Papers, which brought a local law firm international ignominy for setting up secret offshore accounts for wealthy customers from around the world.

Even residents who privately criticize canal management are reluctant to speak up for fear of appearing unpatriotic.

Eldon Gath, a geologist based in the United States, discovered quickly just how sensitive some Panamanians are about the canal. After Mr. Gath prepared a report for the canal authority noting the earthquake risk from faults under the canal, he recalled, Panama’s president at the time, Ricardo Martinelli, went on the attack.

“President Martinelli told us we had insulted the republic,” Mr. Gath said.

The Old and the New

‘Panama in Mourning for Justice’

Grand in scale and beautifully imagined, the original Panama Canal is an engineering marvel. Ships glide through on a 50-mile water bridge. The lock gates, some weighing more than 700 tons, are watertight and buoyant, so finely balanced that should the power fail, a single person can manually open and close them.

Built by the United States after a failed attempt by the French left thousands dead, the canal operated with hardly a false note for 100 years using this procedure: As a ship approaches the locks, cables are attached to electric locomotives that run on rails alongside each of the lock walls.They draw the ship into the chamber, bring it to a stop, then draw it into the next chamber. Their constant tension winches keep the ship centered, ensuring safe and timely passage.

Three locks raise the ships 85 feet to Gatun Lake, which supplies water for the canal and drinking water for much of the country. Three more locks lower them back to sea level. All of the locks are filled and emptied by gravity, without pumps.

Over the decades, the canal made Panama, with few natural resources, a key square on the economic chessboard: a major banking, trading and airline hub, not to mention a transit zone for drug dealing and money laundering.

Then China’s economic ascent ushered in a new era. Ships became bigger. The more cargo they carried, the lower the cost. By 2000, ships were being built that could not pass through the canal. Fearing that its waterway might end up like the long-outdated Erie Canal, the canal authority set out to build a bigger one.

Contractors faced some of the same challenges that the Americans did a century before: tides up to 19 feet on the Pacific but only two on the Atlantic, unstable soil, and torrential downpours. They also had to excavate and dredge without disturbing the original canal operating alongside.

On top of that, just as it was about to solicit bids, the canal authority received some frightening news in November 2007. Jonathan Harris, a geologist working for the authority, reported that Panama’s earthquake risk was far greater than previously believed. By his assessment, the area is vulnerable to earthquakes of up to 8.0 magnitude, according to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

So serious is the risk, Mr. Harris warned, that his consulting company “prohibits any of its employees working in Panama from living above the first floor in any building,” according to the cable.

The next month, the American Embassy heard similar warnings from Mr. Gath. Based on what he said, Panama’s earthquake risk was equal to San Francisco’s.

Even so, three consortiums — including one led by Bechtel, an American company with an international reputation for taking on big, difficult projects — pursued the contract. The financially weakest consortium was led by a Spanish company, Sacyr Vallehermoso, which American officials called “nearly bankrupt” in one cable and “technically bankrupt” in another.

Sacyr’s consortium included a Panamanian company owned by the family of the canal administrator at the time, Alberto Alemán Zubieta. The company, Constructora Urbana, in which Mr. Alemán himself previously owned stock, had already done millions of dollars in business with the canal. The other two members were Impregilo, a large Italian contractor, and Jan De Nul, a Belgian company that specializes in dredging and excavation.

In March 2009, after 15 months of contentious negotiations, the three consortiums submitted their sealed bids before a packed auditorium, with the president and diplomatic corps as witnesses. To heighten the drama, a motorcade delivered the envelopes to a vault at the National Bank for safekeeping. The one with the best price and design would win.

That July, with the nation watching on television, the bids were opened, and the result was a shocker: The underdog Sacyr group had won.

Bechtel and American diplomats were incredulous. Sacyr could not even “pour the concrete” for that amount, a Bechtel representative told the embassy, according to a diplomatic cable.

While Sacyr’s low offer meant Panama received a bargain on price, some viewed it as too good to be true.

A few days after Christmas in 2009, at lunch with Barbara J. Stephenson, the American ambassador, Panama’s vice president, Juan Carlos Varela, confided his fears. He elaborated in another meeting with an embassy official several weeks later: “You don’t mess around with something as important as the canal. When one of the bidders makes a bid that is a billion dollars below the next competitor, then something is seriously wrong,” he said, according to a diplomatic cable.

Given the canal’s importance to American commerce, the embassy assured Washington that it would closely monitor developments.

And it had another concern: the increasingly bizarre behavior of Panama’s president and former canal minister, Mr. Martinelli. By the end of his term in 2014, he would appoint most of the canal’s board of directors. Mr. Martinelli is now best known for something else: presiding over an administration that is the subject of roughly 25 corruption investigations.

In a confidential cable, Ms. Stephenson noted Mr. Martinelli’s “penchant for bullying and blackmail,” as well as his plan to wiretap political adversaries, in part to find out whether his wife was having an affair.

The heading on another cable to Washington captured the moment: “Panama in mourning for justice.”

A Suspect Design

‘I Think Something Awful Is Going to Happen’

Karen Smits arrived in Panama the day the Sacyr group won the contract. She was 27 and had grown up on a farm in the Netherlands. While her gender, blond hair and blue eyes made her stand out among the male construction workers, few people knew who she was or why she was hanging around their lunchrooms, hallways and in the field.

That would soon change. Ms. Smits, an organizational anthropologist, had come to the canal for her Ph.D. thesis on the cultural dynamics within the consortium as it set out to build the new locks. But after 85 interviews over a year, she came away with much more: a contemporaneous account of the tension and conflict emanating not just from cultural clashes, but also from the stress of completing a huge project on a rock-bottom budget.

“The top management of the European companies had not been entirely involved in the final stage of the tender process,” one consortium official told Ms. Smits, adding that when told the size of the winning bid, they were incredulous.

Carlos Fปrega, a senior official at the consortium’s Panamanian company, Constructora Urbana, attended some of the early meetings in Europe. 𠇎verybody had their own issues,” Mr. Fปrega said in an interview. 𠇏our partners. Different cultures. Different ways to approach a project.”

Some officials said the collaboration was like being trapped in a war or an arranged marriage. One Belgian manager told Ms. Smits that he had been instructed “to get rid of his Anglo-Saxon management skills, because those were too organized and too structured for operating in this company.” The manager promised to change immediately and, with a smile, ordered a few glasses of wine at lunch.

Concern over costs quickly escalated into heated exchanges over who was going to do what and for how much. “It is difficult to be flexible if you don’t have a budget to adjust some things, and you know the project is never going to go as planned,” Ms. Smits said.

Time was another issue. The contract called for the work to be completed in 1,883 days so that the opening would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the canal’s 1914 inauguration.

The canal authority would be a stern master. “They know what they want to be built,” the consortium’s consultants wrote. “The contract documents are thorough and very strict.”

They made one fact abundantly clear: The new canal would operate very differently from the old one.

This change weighed on Mr. de la Guardia, the stocky chief of the tugboat captains’ union, as he sat in a Panama City cafe one afternoon last December. “We don’t think it is going to work,” he said.

His opinion carries weight. A native Panamanian who graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Mr. de la Guardia has spent 20 years running tugboats in the canal. “We think it’s going to be a real mess,” he said. “I think something awful is going to happen.”

His concern stems from the canal authority’s decision to abandon locomotives to guide the ships. Tugboats will now push and pull vessels that are more than three football fields long and stacked with up to 13,000 containers, nearly three times as much as the old, smaller ships.

Tugboat captains fear that their boats will be overmatched.

Officials chose the new method after studying canals around the world, particularly Belgium’s Berendrecht Lock, which uses tugboats to move neo-Panamax ships. Not only is it cheaper, the canal authority said, it is more practical, given the ships’ immense size. The authority excluded canal workers from much of the planning, according to union representatives.

“I don’t know why anyone thought of Berendrecht as a model for the new locks here,” said Londor A. Rankin, the head of the union of canal pilots, who board transiting ships and direct them, along with the tugboats. “To begin with, it’s huge.”

Berendrecht also uses only freshwater, whereas Panama tugboats must contend with currents that result when saltwater and freshwater meet. The saltwater dives under. “They fight each other until they reach equilibrium,” Mr. de la Guardia said. “It creates a current 20 to 30 feet below the surface.”

But the locks’ size is the captains’ biggest concern — and they illustrate it on napkins, sheets of paper and blackboards. The new locks are 1,400 feet long and 180 feet wide. Big container ships are 1,200 feet long and 160 feet wide. Tugboats fore and aft measure nearly 100 feet each. Do the math, they say.

In fact, a feasibility study done by the canal authority in 2003 concluded that 𠇏or the tugboat system to work safely and efficiently in the locks,” the locks needed to be 328 feet longer and 40 feet wider than the big ships passing through. By that standard, the new locks should have been 1,528 feet long and 200 feet wide.

The current size, the captains noted, leaves little or no bailout room for the tugboats at either end should a problem arise.

“The mass of a ship, 122,000 tons coming at you — it’s going to run me over,” one captain, Manuel Ceballos Loaiza, said. With such a large surface exposed to the wind, the stacked cargo also acts as a sail, magnifying the tugboats’ challenge.

“We are five months away from inauguration, and I don’t know what I am going to do,” Mr. Ceballos said in December. “I haven’t been trained. They haven’t discussed the procedures. We have been asking them.” Five months later, captains said little had changed.

In late May, Mr. Rankin and two fellow pilots traveled to Europe at union expense to research how ships might move more safely through the locks.

Mr. Rankin said his union members were especially worried about the black plastic buffers, or fenders, attached to the canal walls to protect ships and the canal itself. “We feel they are not good enough,” he said.

The pilots studied cushioning methods used in Europe and concluded that large, floating fenders would be more effective.

“We know how to get ships through this set of locks,” Mr. Rankin said, referring to the old canal. 𠇋ut the new locks are a different ballgame.”

Several years ago, the canal authority quietly tested its new method in the original canal, using smaller vessels.

“That didn’t work out too well, to be honest with you,” said Mr. Rankin, who did not participate in those tests but monitored them. “To my understanding, all of them had to use locomotive wires to avoid impact with the walls.”

The pilots now train on a small artificial lake, using miniature ships and tugboats scaled to one twenty-fifth of their actual size. They also use simulators.

But, as Mr. Rankin pointed out, the pilots’ success also depends on tugboat captains’ ability to get ships in and out of the locks. “They haven’t been trained properly, and that needs to be corrected by the administration,” Mr. Rankin said late last month.

Mr. Quijano said the captains had received proper training, including classes and simulations, and called their complaints a contract-negotiating ploy. He added that the locks could be made longer by using a backup gate that would not, however, increase their width.

To assess the safety and efficacy of the canal authority’s plan, the International Transport Workers’ Federation hired experts to conduct simulations involving neo-Panamax ships. The study, released this year, concluded that the ships could pass through the locks under perfect, windless conditions, but would have trouble on windier days.

“We face a situation where those working on the canal, and those passing through it, are potentially at risk,” said the union’s general secretary, Stephen Cotton.

The canal authority said the study was seriously flawed. Mr. Rankin said his union had recommended using more tugboats to position ships before they entered the locks.

Stern First

New Responsibilities for Suspect Tugboats

On a thick, overcast morning in April, Eric Viluce, a captain with 36 years of experience on the canal, climbed aboard the Cerro Santiago, a bulbous Spanish tugboat nesting just inside the canal’s Pacific entrance.

Mr. Viluce passed a lounge and kitchen before climbing a steep, winding staircase to his glass-enclosed captain’s aerie. A large color monitor showed ships moving through the nearby locks.

He was in good spirits. “Yesterday we had our first big shower,” he said, aware that the canal was short on water. “We desperately needed it.”

This day had been set aside to demonstrate the capabilities of the Santiago, one of 14 “tractor” tugs purchased primarily for the new locks. Mr. Viluce slowly backed the Santiago from its mooring and into the open canal before directing it toward the Celebrity Infinity, a white cruise ship heading for the old canal’s first set of locks.

This was when the Santiago’s navigational peculiarities became apparent. “I’ll go stern first,” Mr. Viluce announced. Easier to handle that way.

The Santiago is no outlier. Each Spanish tugboat can do a 360-degree spin. Each can move sideways, as Mr. Viluce demonstrated by positioning his boat perpendicular to the moving cruise ship and keeping it there. But to go confidently in a straight line, bow first — that’s another matter.

When it came time for the new tugboats to cross the Atlantic to Panama, all made the journey backward, Mr. Viluce said, adding, “They tried bow first, and it wasn’t working.”

The tugboat captains say precise control is necessary to maneuver a massive ship in and out of the new locks. It is akin to threading a needle while fighting wind, currents and waves. And moving backward is not an option when pulling a ship with a line tied to the stern. Shippers will pay an estimated $800,000 to send a neo-Panamax vessel through the canal, and dents and delays are not good for business.

The tugboat manufacturer, Astilleros Armón, did not respond to requests for an interview or to written questions.

But confidential documents obtained by The Times show a close business relationship between Armón and Jorge Alexander Quijano Richard, the canal administrator’s son, a lawyer who worked for MLS & Associates.

“Our law firm sent Mr. Quijano to Spain to visit Astilleros Armón, given that one of his main duties was to do marketing abroad to look for new business opportunities for the firm,” MLS said in a confidential response to a legislative inquiry in Panama.

Mr. Quijano joined MLS three days after the canal authority awarded the $158 million tugboat contract to Armón, records show. When he left for another law firm in 2013, he took Armón with him, MLS told investigators.

In an email, Mr. Quijano said he had not been involved in the bidding process, had not spoken to his father about the contract and had visited several companies on his trip to Europe.

His father said that captains had participated in the selection of the tugboats, and that the contract had been awarded to the bidder offering “the best value.”

Canal workers said they had also experienced problems with other tugboats, specifically Chinese boats with inferior clutches. The canal authority replaced the clutches for close to $10 million, but that did not fix the problem, according to several captains.

“The result has been worse,” Mr. de la Guardia said. He added that on any given day, no more than 30 of the fleet’s 46 tugboats are operational: not enough, he said, to operate the old and new locks.

‘Lo Barato Sale Caro’

Hundreds of Millions in Disputed Costs

It is no small undertaking, making concrete: good, solid concrete that will last 100 years and withstand the corrosive effects of saltwater in the locks. It requires cement — a pasty concoction of various chemicals — plus sand, rock and water. Too little cement, and the mixture will be porous and difficult to place. Too much cement, and it will be smooth and easy to place but susceptible to cracking.

The challenge is to find the correct combination of all components. Which was where the problems began.

Concrete manufacturing plants were built on both ends of the canal, but the raw materials, known as the aggregate, were excavated from the Pacific side. The aggregate, though, was not especially suitable for concrete.

Bechtel, the losing bidder, had suspected as much. “There was an enormous issue with concrete,” said Paul Gibbs, who led Bechtel’s effort to win the contract. “We realized the aggregate on the Pacific side of the locks did not have sufficient integrity to make concrete.” So Bechtel planned to import the aggregate. Expensive, but necessary, Mr. Gibbs said.

Early on, the winning consortium, with its small concrete budget, also found the rock quality poorer than expected, but it made adjustments. Then came a standoff.

Consortium officials said they had waited and waited for the canal authority to approve their concrete mix. The canal authority accused the consortium of simply refusing to pour the concrete. Mr. Alemán, the canal administrator before Mr. Quijano, told the local newspaper La Prensa, “They tried to show that they couldn’t do it, to the point where we said that we wouldn’t talk any more about concrete.”

When the consortium finally did pour, canal officials faulted its concrete management, including 𠇌oncrete covering or lack of covering on reinforcement steel and the repeated lack of protection of concrete during rainfalls.”

In the end, the consortium sought $463 million from the canal authority to cover its losses from the long delays and poor-quality basalt. An arbitration panel sided with the consortium, awarding it more than $230 million.

Concerns over concrete would figure in the resignations of two prominent consortium employees. One was Anthony De Vos, a geologist with the Belgian company, Jan De Nul. In July 2013, Mr. De Vos announced his departure in an email to colleagues, saying he was happy to be free of 𠇍ictatorial managers.” He singled out “numerous erroneous decisions” involving concrete.

“It is a big pity for Jan De Nul that we ended up in such a mess, but the damage is irreversible,” Mr. De Vos wrote. He declined to elaborate when reached recently by telephone.

Johnson Spratt, an excavations manager on the Pacific side, said he, too, had resigned in part because of concerns about concrete. When asked for details, Mr. Spratt quoted an old Spanish saying, “Lo barato sale caro”: That which is cheap comes out expensive.

Cracks in the Concrete

‘It’s Not That We Weren’t Going to Make It Public’

By February 2014, the hostility was such that the consortium simply stopped work, citing “the customer’s repeated unwillingness to act in the spirit of collaboration.”

Work eventually resumed, but when Mr. Quarta, the consortium’s new chief, arrived in Panama in early 2015, he found “very low morale” and a financial crisis.

“You don’t have credit from suppliers. You ask for materials and they don’t come,” Mr. Quarta said. “You live check by check, so it’s very difficult to plan.”

He said he had rallied his workers and gotten the project back on track, and by the middle of last year, the end was in sight.

Then, suddenly, during water tests in the canal, a public relations disaster: photographs and video showing water gushing from concrete in one of the Pacific locks — the same locks near the earthquake faults.

The problem had remained a secret for more than a week. But the images, posted anonymously on Aug. 23 by a canal worker, seemed to confirm everyone’s worst fears. This was no small leak. Water spurted from cracks extending across nearly the entire width of the lock, according to Ilya Espino de Marotta, the executive vice president for engineering at the canal authority. The breach occurred in a concrete block separating the lower and middle chambers.

For the canal authority, the delayed disclosure only magnified the embarrassment.

Asked by a legislator if he had tried to hide the leak, Mr. Quijano acknowledged only that he had taken too long to inform the public. “It’s not that we weren’t going to make it public, because we make everything public,” he said, explaining that he had been waiting for the consortium to determine whether the problem was the design or the quality of the concrete.

“We’re trying to have them give us an answer, and they haven’t given us one,” he complained.

Some days later, a consensus emerged: The design, not the concrete, was at fault. Ms. Marotta said in an interview that the leak had occurred only because the concrete was subjected to extreme pressure when one chamber was empty and the next was full. During normal operations, both chambers would contain water.

To fix the problem, the authority had two options: Tear down the concrete and rebuild it, an expensive remedy that would cause further delays, or drill holes and insert steel reinforcement bars. The decision was made to reinforce. Ms. Marotta said there had already been reinforcement in the affected areas, just not enough.

A nagging question, however, remained. If this chamber leaked, how about the others? And, indeed, a smaller leak was soon found on the Atlantic side.

A month after the first leak was discovered in the Pacific lock, further cracks were found during a new test. In one spot, water was not flowing, although the cracks were wet. But water was flowing from a much longer crack, measuring about 82 feet, according to a structural engineer’s report.

Now, the locks are patched up, their christening near. But in the Panamanian circles where people talk and worry about the canal, there is little unanimity about what exactly went wrong and what should have been done about it.

“The structural engineers inside the canal, who don’t want to give their names out of fear of being persecuted, have pointed out that those locks need to be knocked down and built again,” said Zulay Rodríguez, a lawyer and the chairwoman of a legislative subcommittee created to investigate possible irregularities within the canal authority.

Humberto Reynolds, a concrete expert, was not involved in investigating the leaks, but has monitored the situation and discussed it with fellow civil engineers at meetings of the Panamanian Society of Engineers and Architects. “The work hasn’t even been inaugurated, but it’s already being repaired,” he said.

Mr. Reynolds, who voted against the canal project, said he believed the problems stemmed from the wrong mix of concrete ingredients and substandard pouring practices. He called the work full of “intolerable anomalies” and criticized what he said was a trial-and-error method of fixing them.

Canal officials said all the problems had been properly repaired. “We are confident the concrete will last 100 years,” Mr. Quijano said.

In Search of Water

‘The Lowest on Record for This Time of the Year’

In good times — and in Panama, that means when it rains — Gatun Lake is 85 feet above sea level. From its shore, you can see the Atlantic Ocean spreading out to meet the horizon. Without Gatun, Panama would be barely a footnote in history. Without Gatun, there would be no Panama Canal or the 10,000 people it employs, or the cash that pours into the national treasury, or the audacious skyline that speaks of money and power.

Once the world’s largest artificial lake, Gatun floats the ships that cross the canal and fills the water glasses of many, if not most, of Panama’s residents.

And that is why, on Feb. 17 of this year, the commercial world took careful notice of �VISORY TO SHIPPING No. A-05-2016”: a warning that Gatun was not in good health.

“Gatun Lake’s level is currently at 81.75 feet, the lowest on record for this time of the year,” the advisory said. The canal’s watershed runoff, it noted, was the second worst in history. Rainfall last year was 36 percent below normal.

One month later, the canal authority instructed shippers to lighten their loads so their vessels did not hit bottom. A week and a half later, they were told to lighten them more. And 10 days later, even more.

Like the leak, the water shortage hit at an inopportune time. Just one day after the last load warning, the canal authorities issued instructions for neo-Panamax vessels seeking to use the new locks after they open. The large ships would not be able to carry much more than the smaller vessels in the old passage — hardly a good return on investment for shippers or the canal.

Load restrictions are not new, but these came after Gatun had been dredged to collect more water for the new locks. When they open, Gatun will have to supply nearly twice as much water for the old and new locks combined. Mr. Quijano declined to answer questions about water availability.

Canal officials blamed El Niño for the drought, and the load restrictions were eventually lifted after several days of heavy rain. But this weather pattern was no more unexpected than the prospect of more shortages due to global warming and increased public water consumption.

“We’re going to have some problems on the dry side,” said Jorge Espinosa, a former manager of the canal authority’s water resource unit. “This El Niño was pretty tough on the canal.”

In fact, two international banks had questioned the wisdom of expanding the canal without a new water source. In 2008, the Inter-American Development Bank called water availability “the principal project risk,” according to a consultant’s report last year.

The World Bank raised similar concerns in a 2008 report, citing, among other factors, faster-than-expected growth in Panamanians’ water consumption. If this trend continues, the bank said, it “may result in a reduction in the level of confidence at which the canal could operate.”

Canal officials, too, recognized the need to find more water as they began planning for the new locks. But their solution ran into a political firestorm.

In 1999, Mr. Alemán, the first canal administrator, had helped secure passage of a law giving the canal authority control over the western watershed, where dams could create a new reservoir.

The impoverished people who would have been displaced were not pleased, and with the help of a Roman Catholic Church activist group, they protested. It was morally wrong, the local bishop, Msgr. Carlos Mar໚ Ariz, wrote in a letter to Panama’s president, to destroy the farmers’ “lifestyles and traditions” for the sake of the canal.

The government pushed back. Under pressure, the church appointed a new bishop and fired the activist group’s leader, Hຜtor Endara Hill, after 20 years of community work. Another leader of the protests, Francisco Aperador, whom the church had sent to Panama to work with the indigenous population, was expelled from the country, Mr. Endara said.

The new bishop 𠇌onfessed in a team meeting that he was named to 𠆌hop heads,’ and mine was the first one to roll,” he said. “Later, after much mistreatment, harassment and persecution, a great majority were fired.”

The canal’s chief engineer, Thomas Drohan, was forced out around 2000, after criticizing the watershed plan, Mr. Endara said. Mr. Drohan declined to comment for this article.

But ultimately, fearing the loss of a national referendum on canal expansion, the legislature reversed itself in 2006 and rescinded the law. The canal authority switched positions, as well, and said it did not need a new reservoir. Water-saving basins were built so the canal could reuse 60 percent of the water that fills the locks as ships pass through, according to canal officials.

The basins, said Frank C. Townsend, a retired University of Florida civil engineering professor who grew up in Panama, are a “pretty savvy bit of engineering work.”

With the protests quelled, the canal expansion passed with 70 percent of the vote in the referendum, though less than half of the population turned out.

“If the new system ends up working,” said Ariel Rodríguez, a biologist formerly at the University of Panama, “they’ll discover in the next year that they are in crisis, that there isn’t water, that the ships can’t go through because there is no water. And what are people going to say? 𠆋ring me water from anywhere and at whatever cost.’ ”

Epilogue

‘We Are Determined to Make This Thing Work’

On the morning of June 9, the training wheels came off as the first neo-Panamax ship, the Baroque Valletta, entered the first of three locks on the Atlantic side. With the official opening just two weeks away, canal officials wanted to be sure their locks worked as planned.

The Italian consortium member, now called Salini Impregilo, had invited foreign journalists to fly in and watch. But the canal authority had other ideas.

“They told me they don’t want journalists to see,” said Fabio Dal Boni, an Impregilo spokesman. “I said it is crazy. They are totally wrong.”

Impregilo told the authority that the crossing would not remain a secret because hundreds of canal workers would be watching, cellphones in hand, taking pictures. Canal officials relented. The journalists came.

Under a mostly sunny sky, history was made, as the Baroque passed through all three locks before anchoring in Gatun Lake. Leading the way was a familiar boat, the Cerro Santiago. A second Spanish tug was in the rear. The applause on shore was acknowledged with blasts from the ship’s horn.

The canal authority rushed out a news release heralding its accomplishment — though not without a bit of a linguistic faux pas. The completed project, the release said, is another example of the authority’s “myopic focus on customer service.”

The degree of difficulty for Baroque’s passage was actually quite low. The ship fit easily in the 1,400-foot lock because it is only 836 feet long, roughly two-thirds the length of the larger vessels. And it presented a small profile in the wind because, as a bulk carrier, it had no stacked containers.

Jan Kop, the project manager for Jan De Nul, the consortium’s Belgian member, watched the careful, slow procession. “We have seen that it is working,” he said with a smile.

Asked about the delayed opening, Mr. Kop said it was not unusual for a project of this size but added, “Yes, it would have been better had there been no delays.”

Gerry Wang, the chief executive of Seaspan Corporation, which charters large container ships, said not opening on time was “terrible” since ships had been built to take advantage of the bigger locks. “Some of those ships were delivered two or three years ago,” Mr. Wang said. “They still have not been able to go through the new Panama Canal.”

The canal authority’s plan to move about 12 neo-Panamax ships a day now appears unrealistic — at least for the time being, according to shippers, given that many East Coast ports are still preparing the infrastructure to accommodate the big ships.

The shippers are uncertain as well. “The Panama Canal situation has been very murky for a long time,” Mr. Wang said. “They don’t know whether the new Panama Canal can really handle the big vessels.”

Last week, after the reporters had departed, a lock gate malfunctioned during a trial with the Baroque. “That is the reason we do testing — to debug the works,” said Jorge de la Guardia, a senior official with the canal authority.

The authority now says that, during the rollout period, it expects the new locks to handle no more than three ships a day.

There are other loose ends, including assessing the project’s final cost. A spokesman for Salini Impregilo said the contractors were seeking at least $3.4 billion from the canal authority in excess expenses.

Mr. Kop recently told a Dutch news organization, De Volkskrant, that the canal authority had a very rigid attitude. “We rowed six years against the current,” he said. “There is a very small chance we survive this without any damage.”

There will be winners and losers in Panama as well. Important national issues such as infrastructure improvement and education have been set aside, said Mr. Rodríguez, the Panamanian professor. “Not a single group in the country has decided that those are a priority,” he said.

Miguel Antonio Bernal, a constitutional law professor at the University of Panama and an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of Panama City in 2009, said no one dared speak out against the canal. “The only thing that makes the canal Panamanian is its name, because it belongs to the entrenched oligarchy,” said Mr. Bernal, who also represents the tugboat captains’ union.

Adolfo Ahumada, whose term on the canal board just expired, said serious public discussion was needed about earmarking canal income for social purposes. At the same time, he praised the board’s oversight of canal funds. “There is not a public institution whose finances are more monitored than the Panama Canal Authority,” he said.

While there have been no substantiated allegations of corruption in the expansion of the canal, the authority’s image has not been helped by the fact that most of the board members were appointed by Mr. Martinelli, the disgraced former president. Among the matters being studied by investigators is a public contract, not involving the canal, given to a company owned by a canal board member, Nicolás Corcione. Mr. Corcione declined to comment.

Mr. Martinelli is waiting out those investigations in Miami. He may be gone, but he is not out of touch.

This month, he sent a mocking Twitter message to the canal board’s chairman, Mr. Roy, and to Mr. Varela, who is now Panama’s president: “I haven’t received invitation to the canal expansion.”

It is entirely possible that the canal will work as intended: that water will be found, that the concrete will last, that the big ships will come, and that the Panamanian people will celebrate their historic accomplishment. That is certainly the hope, even among those who have privately or publicly expressed concern about the canal’s future.

“We are determined to make this thing work,” the pilot union leader, Mr. Rankin, said he had told Mr. Quijano. “We have a compact with the country to make this thing work.”

Walt Bogdanich and Ana Graciela Méndez reported from Panama City, and Jacqueline Williams from New York.

Produced by Larry Buchanan, Aaron Byrd, Hannah Fairfield, Matt Ruby, Jeremy White and John Woo. Drone video by Larry Buchanan and Digital Drones Panama for The New York Times.


Panama Canal Authority Launches Decarbonization Plan, Targets 2030 Carbon Neutrality

The Panama Canal Authority announced April 26 it has launched a process of decarbonizing its operations, with the goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.

“We at the Panama Canal are committed to sustainability, and therefore are laying the foundation, creating the tools and identifying the changes needed to achieve efficiencies that will allow us as an organization to reach carbon neutrality,” Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales said. “This is a fundamental strategy for the waterway’s long-term operation and sustainability. This process will build on our longstanding efforts to minimize our environmental impact, including encouraging customers to use clean fuels and reduce their carbon footprint.”

The canal contributed to a reduction of more than 13 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions in 2020 by offering a shorter route for ships in comparison to alternative routes, the authority said.

However, the authority said it also also recognizes the importance of making its own operation carbon-neutral by the end of the decade.

To kick off the transition to a greener canal, the authority purchased four electric vehicles as part of a pilot program that will collect data to inform the migration of the canal’s entire fleet away from fossil fuel dependence. Part of its strategic decarbonization plan also includes tugboats and launches that use alternative fuels, the substitution of electricity production processes in favor of photovoltaic plants, the use of hydraulic energy and ensuring that all facilities and infrastructure projects are environmentally responsible and sustainable.

The Panama Canal first began tracking its carbon footprint in 2013 to align its operations with the global objectives of reducing emissions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Its plans to become carbon neutral were bolstered in 2017 with the launch of its Emissions Calculator, a tool that not only allows shipping lines to measure their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per route, but also strengthens the canal’s analysis of the emissions produced by its own day-to-day operations.

To reduce its own impact, the Panama Canal has also taken steps to find ways to maximize its operational efficiencies, whether by implementing water conservation measures or optimizing transits. Panama’s Maritime Single Window (VUMPA) has improved the efficiency and carbon footprint of transshipment procedures by streamlining logistics paperwork for international customers passing through the country, saving up to 3,260 hours and more than 300,000 paper forms each year.

In addition, the Panama Canal also joined the Declaration of the “50 First Carbon-Neutral Organizations,” an initiative led by Panama’s Ministry of Environment to integrate national efforts to accelerate measurable climate actions. As part of the initiative, the canal will develop an annual greenhouse gas inventory, as well as an action plan with measurable targets to reduce emissions. The canal’s efforts will be factored into Panama’s National Determined Contribution (NDC), established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), following the Paris Agreement.

The Panama Canal’s efforts have since stretched beyond tracking to include initiatives aimed at helping and incentivizing shipping lines to minimize their environmental footprint. Through its Green Connection Environmental Recognition Program, the canal authority recognizes customers who demonstrate excellent environmental stewardship, including the use of low-carbon fuels and environmentally conscious routes. As an enhancement to this program, the Panama Canal is currently analyzing taking into account in its dynamic pricing strategy the vessels’ technology and its carbon footprint, which makes it more efficient during transit.

The Panama Canal also promotes the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) efforts to minimize the environmental impact of the shipping industry, from the implementation of its IMO 2020 regulation to its nearby transit separation schemes and vessel speed reduction programs. By supporting the latter, for example, the canal helps shipping lines reduce their risk of colliding with whales migrating near the waterway, while also lowering their GHG and pollutant gas emissions by an average of 75 percent, depending on the type, size and fuel of each vessel.

Sustainability Of The Watershed

Through environmental programs in its watershed, the Panama Canal has contributed to Panama’s ranking as one of only three carbon-negative countries in the world, meaning Panama’s forests absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than the country emits.

For over a decade, the waterway has partnered with communities in the watershed to ensure their sustainable use of the area’s natural resources, while bolstering their quality of life.

One of the canal’s core programs is the Environmental Economic Incentives Program, which provides local farmers with resources, from land titles to agroforestry training, that enable them to sustainably develop, reforest and protect land in the local watershed. As a result, the Panama Canal and watershed communities have together reforested more than 12,000 hectares.


The length of the Panama Canal is 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the deep waters of the Atlantic to the deep waters of the Pacific.

How long does it take for a complete transit?

A ship takes an average of 8 to 10 hours to transit the Panama Canal.

What is the size of Gatun Lake?

Lake Gatun covers an area of 163.38 square miles and was formed by the construction of an earthen dam across the Chagres River which runs northward toward the Caribbean Sea.

What is the length of Culebra or Gaillard Cut?

Culebra Cut is 13.7 kilometers long and extends from Gatun Lake to Pedro Miguel Locks.

When was Madden Dam built?

Construction of Madden Dam started in February 1932 and was completed in 1935.

Why is it called Madden Dam?

Madden Dam was named in honor of Martin B. Madden, member of the U.S. Appropriations Committee from Illinois.

Construction of Gatun Dam started in 1906 and was completed in 1910.

What is the horsepower in a towing locomotive?

New locomotives weigh 50 tons each and operate with two traction units of 290 HP each, compared to the 170 HP units of the previous locomotive model.

How much did the first "mules" cost, and what is their current cost?

The first mules or locomotives cost $13,217 and were built by General Electric, an American company. Mitsubishi, a Japanese company, is the current manufacturer of Panama Canal locomotives, which cost US$2.3 million each.

What is the size of each lock chamber?

Each chamber is 110 feet wide by 1,000 feet long. The total volume of concrete used to build the locks was 3,440,488 cubic meters.

What is the size of each miter gate?

All gates are 65 feet wide by 7 feet deep. Their height, however, varies from 47 to 82 feet, depending on their location. Miraflores lock gates are the tallest, due to the variation in Pacific Ocean tides. There are 46 gates, and their weight is of 353.8 to 662.2 tons.

How is a lock chamber filled?

To fill a chamber, the lower lock valves are closed and the upper valves are opened. The water comes from Gatun Lake through long ducts, and enters the chamber through 20 holes in the chamber floor. To release the water from the locks, the upper valves are closed, and the lower valves are opened.

How long does it take to fill a lock chamber?

A Panama Canal lock chamber fills up in 8 minutes.

How much water is required to fill a lock chamber?

101,000 cubic meters of water are needed to fill a Panama Canal lock chamber. An average of 52 million gallons of fresh water are used in each transit.

Where does the water that fills the lock chambers originate?

All water used in any lock chamber comes from Gatun Lake. This lake covers 163.38 square miles and was created when Gatun Dam was built. At one time, Gatun Lake was the largest artificial lake in the world.

How high above sea level is a vessel raised?

Ships are raised 85 feet over sea level. This is the level of Gatun Lake.

How many tugboats does the Panama Canal have?

Tugboats assist ships during their transit through the Canal, mainly when entering and leaving the locks, and during their transit through Culebra Cut, where great maneuverability and power are required.


Panama Canal locks

The Panama Canal locks (Spanish: Esclusas del Canal de Panamá) are a lock system that lifts ships up 85 feet (26 metres) to the main elevation of the Panama Canal and down again. The original canal had a total of six steps (three up, three down) for a ship's passage. The total length of the lock structures, including the approach walls, is over 1.9 miles (3 km). The locks were one of the greatest engineering works ever to be undertaken when they opened in 1914. No other concrete construction of comparable size was undertaken until the Hoover Dam, in the 1930s.

There are two independent transit lanes, since each lock is built double. The size of the original locks limits the maximum size of ships that can transit the canal this size is known as Panamax. Construction on the Panama Canal expansion project, which included a third set of locks, began in September 2007, finished by May 2016 [1] and began commercial operation on 26 June 2016. The new locks allow transit of larger, New Panamax ships, which have a greater cargo capacity than the previous locks were capable of handling. [2]


Contents

The original Panama Canal has a limited capacity determined by operational times and cycles of the existing locks and further constrained by the current trend towards larger (close to Panamax-sized) vessels transiting the canal, requiring more transit time in the locks and channels. Also, periodic maintenance on the aging canal requires shutdowns of this waterway. Demand is growing due to the growth of international trade, and many users require a guaranteed level of service. Despite the gains which have been made in efficiency, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) estimated that the canal would reach its maximum sustainable capacity between 2009 and 2012. [1] The long-term solution for the congestion was the expansion of the canal with a third set of locks.

The size of ships that can transit the canal, called Panamax, is constrained by the size of the locks, which are 110 ft (33.53 m) wide and 1,050 ft (320.04 m) long, and 41.2 ft (12.56 m) deep. The third set of locks will allow transit of larger, Post-Panamax ships, which have a greater cargo capacity than the current locks can handle. The new lock chambers are 180 ft (54.86 m) wide, 1,400 ft (426.72 m) long, and 60 ft (18.29 m) deep. These dimensions allow for an estimated 79% of all cargo-carrying vessels to transit the canal, up from 45%. [8]

All of the canal-widening studies since the 1930s have determined that the best way to increase canal capacity is by building a third set of locks larger than the 1914 locks. The US began excavations for new locks in 1939, but abandoned them in 1942 because of the outbreak of World War II. [1] This conclusion was again reached in the 1980s by the tripartite commission formed by Panama, Japan, and the US. More recently, the studies developed by the Panama Canal Authority (Spanish: Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (ACP)) for its 2025 master plan confirm that a third, larger set of locks is the most suitable, profitable, and environmentally responsible option. [1]

Former president Martín Torrijos, in a 24 April 2006 speech announcing the project, said that the canal "is like our 'petroleum'. Just like the petroleum that has not been extracted is worthless and that in order to extract it you have to invest in infrastructure, the canal requires to expand its capacity to absorb the growing demand of cargo and generate more wealth for Panamanians". [9]

While the canal expansion was being completed, and considering the high operational costs of the vessels, the long queues that occur during the high season December through to March (sometimes up to a seven-day delay), and the high value of some of the cargo transported through the canal, the ACP has implemented a Transit Booking System and Transit Slot Auction to allow a better management of the scarce capacity available and to increase the level of service offered to the shipping companies. The scheme gives users two choices: (1) transit by order of arrival on a first-come, first-served basis, as the canal historically has operated or (2) booked service for a fee—a congestion charge. The booked service allows two options of fees. The Transit Booking System, available online, allowing customers who do not want to wait in queue to pay an additional 15% over the regular tolls, guaranteeing a specific day for transit and crossing the canal in 18 hours or less. ACP sells 24 of these daily slots up to 365 days in advance. The second choice is high priority transit. Since 2006, ACP has made available a 25th slot, sold through the Transit Slot Auction to the highest bidder. [10] The main customers of the Transit Booking System are cruise ships, container ships, vehicle carriers, and non-containerized cargo vessels. [11]

Cargo volume Edit

The Panama Canal Authority predicts that the volume of cargo transiting the canal will grow by an average of 3% per year, doubling the 2005 tonnage by 2025. Allowing larger vessels to transit the canal will move more cargo per transit and volume of water used.

Historically, the dry and liquid bulk segments have generated most of the canal's revenues. Bulk cargo includes dry goods, such as grains (corn, soy, and wheat, among others), minerals, fertilizers, coal, and liquid goods, such as chemical products, propane gas, crude oil, and oil derivatives. Recently, containerized cargo has replaced dry bulk as the canal's main income generator, moving it to second place. Vehicle carriers have become the third-largest income generator, replacing the liquid bulk segment. Shipping industry analyses conducted by the ACP and top industry experts indicate that the canal expansion will be beneficial to both the canal and its users because of the demand that will be served by allowing the transit of more tonnage. [1]

However, the question is whether the trend on which the ACP makes those projections can continue for a generation.

The growth in usage of the Panama Canal over the past few years has been almost entirely driven by increased US imports from China passing through the canal en route to ports on the US East and Gulf coasts. But it is increasingly recognized in both the US and China that this imbalance in trade is unsustainable and will be reduced via some sort of adjustment in the coming years [12] (although such an imbalance need not be made up by physically shipped goods, but could be made by other trade such as intellectual property as China upgrades its intellectual property protection laws). The ACP, however, presumes that trade will continue to grow for a generation as it has for the past several years. [ citation needed ]

One of the central points made by critics of canal expansion, most prominently former canal administrator Fernando Manfredo, is that it is unrealistic to attempt to predict canal usage trends over a generation, improbable to expect that US imports from China will continue to grow for a generation as they have the past few years, and irresponsible to bet Panama's financial future on such a projection. [ citation needed ]

Competition Edit

The most direct competition to the canal comes from alternative routes that present options for transporting cargo between the same points of origin and destination.

The opening of the Russian Northern Sea Route and the Canadian Northwest Passage to commercial traffic could pose an alternative to the canal in the long term. Warmer waters in the Arctic Ocean could open the passage for an increasing number of months each year, making it more attractive as a major shipping route. However, the passage through the Arctic would require significant investment in escort vessels and staging ports. The Canadian commercial marine transport industry does not anticipate that this route will be a viable alternative to the Panama Canal within the next 10 to 20 years. [13]

The two main current competitors of the Panama Canal are the US intermodal system and the Suez Canal. The main ports and merchandise distribution centers in these routes are investing in capacity, location, and maritime and land infrastructure to serve post-Panamax container ships and their larger cargo volumes. According to the ACP, the growing usage of such ships in transcontinental routes competing with the canal is irreversible. It was estimated that by 2011 approximately 37% of the capacity of the world's container ship fleet would consist of vessels that did not fit through the current canal, and a great part of this fleet could be used on routes that compete with Panama. [1]

The proposal states that strengthening the canal's competitive position will allow it to accommodate demand and serve its customers. If the canal had the capacity to serve the growing demand, Panama could become the most important connectivity hub on the continent by joining together north–south continental routes and east–west transcontinental routes. Accordingly, the canal will continue to be viable and competitive in all of its routes and segments, and contribute significantly to Panama's development and growth while maintaining its position as a major world trade route. [1]

Predictions Edit

According to the studies conducted by the ACP in 2005, the canal would reach its maximum sustainable capacity between 2009 and 2012. When it reached this capacity it would not be able to continue to handle growth in demand, resulting in a reduction in the competitiveness of the Panama maritime route.

As approved by the Panamanian people, construction for the expansion project was slated to conclude by April 2016. The ACP said it would use all possible means to stretch capacity until the construction is completed.

The proposed expansion of the canal by the construction of a third set of locks will allow it to capture the entire demand projected through 2025 and beyond. Together, the existing and new locks will approximately double the capacity of the present canal. [1]

Critics such as former legislator Keith Holder, co-author of the legislation that created the ACP, pointed out that canal usage is seasonal and that even during the few months when it is most crowded, the bottleneck that slows traffic is not the locks but the narrow Culebra Cut, which has a limited capacity for large ships to pass one another. [14]

Although the canal was nearing its maximum capacity, it did not mean that ships were unable to transit it. Rather, the canal's growth capacity stagnated and that it could not capture additional cargo volumes. [1]

The former head of the Panama Canal's dredging division, Thomas Drohan, a critic of the expansion plan, discounted allegations that this is a problem in the short term. He argued that if the supply of any good or service becomes short, businesses can raise their prices this would apply to Panama Canal tolls as much as it does to petroleum. [15]

Locks Edit

The original canal has two lanes, each with its own set of locks. The expansion project added a third lane through the construction of lock complexes at each end of the canal. One lock complex is located on the Pacific side, southwest of the existing Miraflores Locks. The other is located east of the existing Gatun Locks. Each of these new lock complexes have three consecutive chambers designed to move vessels from sea level to the level of Gatun Lake and back down again. [1]

Each chamber has three lateral water-saving basins, for a total of nine basins per lock and 18 basins in total. Just like the original locks, the new locks and their basins will be filled and emptied by gravity, without the use of pumps. The location of the new locks uses a significant portion of the area excavated by the United States in 1939 and suspended in 1942 because of World War II. The new locks are connected to the existing channel system through new navigational channels. [1] The new lock chambers are 427 m (1,400.92 ft) long, 55 m (180.45 ft) wide, and 18.3 m (60.04 ft) deep. They use rolling gates instead of miter gates, which are used by the original locks. Rolling gates are used in almost all existing locks with dimensions similar to the new ones, and are a proven technology. The new locks use tugboats to position the vessels instead of electric locomotives. As with rolling gates, tugs are successfully and widely used for these purposes in locks of similar dimensions. [1]

Water saving basins Edit

The new locks have water-saving basins to reduce the volume of water that is needed in lock operation. The operation of both the old and new locks uses gravity and valves. There is no pumping involved.

Operation of the locks, old and new, uses water from Gatun Lake. Even in the current situation with two lock lanes, water supply can be limited at the end of Panama's dry season, when the lake's water level is low. The addition of a third set of locks meant that this water supply issue needed to be addressed.

Three basins are associated with each lock chamber. The volume lost per cycle is two-fifths of the "moving water" chamber volume. The other three-fifths is reused. An equal savings of water, based on the same principle, could be reached by adding more lock chambers. Constructing a stair of eight chambers (instead of three) to elevate 85 ft (26 m) would use an 11 ft (3.25 m) water slice per cycle. However, this would require ships to travel through eight locks, making ship handling less efficient.

Water usage is calculated per single lock cycle. It is determined by the water volume in a lock chamber between the levels it handles. Essentially, each cycle uses the volume of water discharged by the lock chamber (its width multiplied by its height and depth). When the locks are in stairs, as in the Panama Canal, only the first (highest) lock chamber matters for this calculation. None of the lower locks use additional water they have the same volume. Moreover, the ship's underwater volume does not matter, because that volume is present both before and after the change in water level and thus is part of the non-moved volume.

The water used per lock operating cycle is therefore equal to the amount of water that flows into the first (upper) lock chamber when filling it from Gatun Lake. Reducing this volume requires reducing the chamber's width, length, or elevating height. Note that the elevating height has already been reduced by staging the total 85 ft (26 m) elevation change into three locks. Were this change done in a single lock chamber, the water volume lost would be three times as much.

The water-saving basins function as follows: The volume of water moved by the lock chamber (e.g., a height of 30 ft (9 m)) can be divided into five equal horizontal "slices" (here, 1.8 m each). When the canal begins operation, the chamber is filled once from Gatun Lake. Then, when emptying the chamber, the top three slices (1, 2, and 3) are emptied, one by one, into three basins, each at a successively lower elevation. That is, water slice 1 is emptied, using gravity and valves, into a basin that is at the same level as water slice 2. Then water slice 2 is emptied into a basin at the same level as water slice 3, and slice 3 is emptied into a basin at the same level as slice 4. Water slices 4 and 5 are emptied into the next lock chamber and "lost" (as in the original canal locks).

When the lock moves a ship upward, the chamber is closed, and the water from the basin at level 4 is let into the chamber, filling slice 5. Then basin level 3 fills level 4, and basin 2 fills level 3. Next, from levels 2 and 1 are filled from Gatun Lake, "costing" a volume of 12 ft (3.6 m) instead of 30 ft (9 m) over the chamber area (2/5 of the elevation height). The ship is now at the level of Gatun Lake and can cross it.

Navigational channels Edit

According to the plan, a 3.2 km (2.0 mi)-long access channel was excavated to connect the new Atlantic locks with the existing sea entrance of the canal. To connect the new Pacific-side locks with the existing channels, two new access channels were built:

  • The 6.2 km (3.9 mi) north access channel, which connects the new Pacific-side lock with the Culebra Cut, circumventing Miraflores Lake. This channel runs along the new Borinquen Dam that separates it from Miraflores Lake (which has a water level that is 9 m lower, due to the dislocation of the Pedro Miguel locks).
  • The 1.8 km (1.1 mi) south access channel, which connects the new lock with the existing sea entrance on the Pacific Ocean (fig. 5).

The new channels on both the Atlantic and the Pacific sides are at least 218 meters (715 feet) wide, permitting Post-Panamax vessels to navigate in a single direction. [1]

Maximum operating level of Gatun Lake Edit

Canal elevations are referred to using the Precise Level Datum (PLD), which is close to the mean sea level of the Atlantic and Pacific entrances. The maximum operational level of Gatun Lake was raised by approximately 0.45 meters (1.5 feet) from the previous PLD level of 26.7 meters (88 feet) to a PLD level of 27.1 meters (89 feet). Combined with the widening and deepening of the navigational channels, this has increased Gatun Lake's usable water reserve capacity and allows the canal's water system to supply a daily average of 165,000,000 US gal (625,000 m 3 137,000,000 imp gal) of additional water. This additional water volume is enough to provide an annual average of approximately 1,100 additional lockages without affecting the water supply for human use, which is also provided from Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes. [1]

The construction of the third set of locks project was originally slated to take seven or eight years, with the new locks beginning operations between fiscal years 2014 and 2015, roughly 100 years after the canal first opened. [1] [16] In July 2012, however, it was announced that the expansion project had fallen six months behind schedule, pushing the opening date back from October 2014 to April 2015. [17] By September 2014, the new gates were projected to be open for transit at the "beginning of 2016." [18] [19] [20] [21]

In October 2011, the Panama Canal Authority announced the completion of the third phase of excavation for the Pacific access channel. [22] [23]

In June 2012, a 100-foot-tall reinforced concrete monolith was completed, the first of 46 such monoliths that line the new Pacific-side lock walls. [24]

Sixteen new lock gates had to be installed as part of the canal expansion: eight on the Atlantic side, and eight on the Pacific. The installation process began in December 2014, with a 3,285-ton gate's installation on the Atlantic side it concluded in April 2015, with the installation of a 4,232-ton gate on the Pacific side. [25] [26]

In June 2015, flooding of the new locks began: first on the Atlantic side, then on the Pacific by then, the canal's re-inauguration was slated for April 2016. [27] [28] [29] [30]

In August 2015, a crack was reported in a concrete sill at the new Cocoli locks, but it was not initially anticipated to affect the project completion timeline. [31] [32] By November 2015, however, cracks discovered over the previous months threatened to delay project completion. [33] Sill reinforcements were, however, anticipated to be completed by January, 2016. [34] In early February 2016, the ACP reported that sill reinforcements, repairing the cracks detected earlier, were complete. [35] [36]

By January 2016, Panama's President Varela indicated that he anticipated the expansion to be complete around May 2016. [37] The expanded canal began commercial operation on 26 June 2016. The first ship to cross the canal using the third set of locks was a modern New Panamax vessel, the Chinese-owned container ship "Cosco Shipping Panama." [38] The United States dispatched a navy ship to Panama to demonstrate U.S. naval power to the Chinese ship. [39]

The main purpose of the canal expansion program is to increase Panama's ability to benefit from the growing traffic demand. This growing demand is manifested in both the increased cargo volumes and the size of vessels that will use the Panama route. In this sense, with a third set of locks, the canal will be able to manage the traffic demand forecast beyond 2025 [40] total inflation-adjusted revenues for that year are predicted to amount to over USD $6.2 billion. [1]

Estimated cost Edit

In 2006, ACP estimated the cost of the third set of locks project at US$5.25 billion. [1] This figure includes design, administrative, construction, testing, environmental mitigation, and commissioning costs, as well as contingencies to cover risks and unforeseen events, such as accidents, design changes, price increases, and possible delays. The cost of interest paid on loans during construction is not included. The largest cost is that associated with constructing the two new lock complexes—one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides—with estimated costs of US$1.11 billion and US$1.03 billion each, plus a US$590 million provision for possible contingencies during their construction. [1]

Opponents contend the project is based on uncertain projections about maritime trade and the world economy. Roberto N. Méndez, an economist at the University of Panama, alleges that the economic and financial projections are based on manipulated data. [41] Independent engineers, most notably Humberto Reynolds [42] and Tomás Drohan Ruiz, [43] the former head of engineering and dredging of the Panama Canal, say that the project will cost much more than currently budgeted and that it is too risky for Panama. M. A. Bernal, a professor at the University of Panama, argues that confidence in the ACP's budget is undermined because of the involvement of engineering and consultancy firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Estimated profitability and financing Edit

According to the ACP, the third set of locks will be financially profitable, producing a 12 percent internal rate of return. The project's financing is separate from the governmental budget. The state, which has a lower credit rating than the ACP, does not guarantee or endorse any loans borrowed by the ACP for the project. Assuming that tolls increase at an annual average rate of 3.5 percent for 20 years, and according to the traffic demand forecast and construction schedule deemed most likely by the ACP, the external financing required will be temporary and in the order of US$2.3 billion to cover peak construction activities between 2009 and 2011. [1]

The ACP's revenue projections are based on questionable assumptions about increased canal usage and shippers' willingness to pay higher tolls instead of seeking competing routes. In a bid to attract new business as well as keeping the current customers, the ACP is looking to implement financial incentives in their toll programme, including a loyalty scheme, which are expected to combat the problems raised by increased fees. [44] With the cash flow generated by the expanded canal, investment costs are expected to be recovered in less than 10 years, and financing could be repaid in approximately eight. [1]

The $2.3 billion financing package for the canal expansion, signed in December 2008 in the midst of the global financial crisis, includes loans from the following government-owned financial institutions:

The financing is not tied that is, contracts can be awarded to firms from any country. The loans are for 20 years, including a 10-year grace period. Under a common terms agreement, all five financial institutions agreed to provide the same loan conditions to the ACP. Shortly before, credit rating agency Moody's gave the ACP an A1 investment grade rating. Mizuho Corporate Bank and the law firm Shearman & Sterling helped put the financing package together. [45]

The ACP's proposal claims that the project will not permanently harm the environment, communities, primary forests, national parks or forest reserves, relevant patrimonial or archaeological sites, agricultural or industrial production areas, or tourist or port areas. It says that any harm can be mitigated using existing procedures and technology. [1]

The proposal says that the project will not permanently reduce water or air quality. The proposed water supply program maximizes the water capacity of Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes and is designed to use water efficiently so that no new reservoirs will be required and no communities need to be displaced. [1]

Critics of the project contend that there are many environmental issues to be considered, such as the link between El Niño (ENSO) and the threat to water supplies posed by El Niño. The ACP has commissioned studies by several consultants about water supply and quality problems. Some of the most prominent critics of the canal expansion plan from the point of view of water quality issues are Eric Jackson [46] (editor of the online Panama News), Gonzalo Menendez [47] (former head of Panama's National Environmental Authority), and Ariel Rodriguez [48] (a biologist at the University of Panama), and former Vice Minister of Public Works Grettel Villalaz de Allen. [49]

Jackson contends that the ACP's public statements often do not match the findings of their studies. He argues that studies by Delft Hydraulics, [50] WPSI Inc., [51] and DHI [52] all say that the proposed water-saving basins will allow more salt water into Gatun Lake, from which about half of Panama's population takes its drinking water. The ACP says that the problem can be reduced by "flushing" the new locks with fresh water from Gatun Lake, but this would defeat the water-saving feature.

However, one of the leading environmental organizations in Panama, the National Association for Nature Conservation (ANCON), says that the studies and projections of operations of the third set of locks, including the water-saving basins, credibly state that there will be very low levels of salinization of waters of Gatun Lake and that these levels will preserve the biological separation of the oceans while safekeeping biodiversity and water quality for human use. [53]

According to the ACP, the canal expansion's impact on employment was first to be observed in jobs directly generated by its construction. Approximately 35,000–40,000 new jobs were created during the construction of the third set of locks, including 6,500–7,000 additional jobs that were directly related to the project during the peak years of construction. However, officials state that the most important impacts on employment will be medium and long term, and will come from the economic growth brought about by extra income generated by the expanded canal and the economic activities produced by the increase in canal cargo and vessel transits.

The labor required for construction of the third set of locks was largely done by Panamanians. To ensure the availability of Panamanian labor necessary for the third set of locks project and its connected activities, the ACP and public and private authorities worked jointly to train the required workforce, with sufficient lead time, so that it had the necessary competencies, capabilities, and certifications. The costs of these training programs were included in the cost estimates of the project. [1]

Critics dismiss this as demagogy, noting that according to the ACP's own studies, at the peak of construction there would be fewer than 6,000 jobs created, and that some of these would be highly skilled posts filled by foreigners because there are no Panamanians qualified to fill them. [ citation needed ]

Among those who opposed the canal expansion proposal is Panama's construction workers' union, SUNTRACS. The workers went on strike demanding higher pay, back pay, and better safety. The average worker was getting paid $2.90/hr and a skilled worker was paid $3.52/hr. After the strike average worker was getting paid about $4.90/hr and skilled about $7.10/hr. The union's secretary general, Genaro Lopez, argued that while some construction jobs would be created by the project, the debt that Panama incurs to build a third set of locks will not be defrayed by increased canal usage and thus an increased part of canal revenues will go toward paying the debt, reducing the waterway's contributions to the national government's general fund, in turn reducing the money available for road projects, public schools, police protection, and other government services. [ citation needed ]

Critics also claim that the project lacks an accompanying social development plan. Then-President Torrijos has since accepted the request to develop one with the mediation of the United Nations Development Programme. [54]

ANCON (the National Association for Nature Conservation) [53] approved the environmental studies of the proposal and gave some recommendations before the project was approved. The following had also endorsed the proposal:

  • La Prensa newspaper, in an editorial note [55]
  • Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture [56]
  • The government-aligned CONATO [57] (National Council of Organized Workers)
  • Stanley Heckadon, former director of the INRENARE agency, predecessor of the National Environmental Authority [58]
  • Former Miss UniverseJustine Pasek, writer Rosa María Britton, and painter Olga Sinclair[56]
  • Canal customers, many in the maritime industries and the business community [59]
  • 77% of Panamanian voters, in a referendum the turnout was 43% [60]

Former President Jorge Illueca, former sub-administrator of the Panama Canal Commission Fernando Manfredo, shipping consultant Julio Manduley, and industrial entrepreneur George Richa M. said that the expansion was not necessary they claimed that the construction of a mega-port on the Pacific side would be sufficient to meet probable future demand. Such a port would be the second in the American Pacific deep enough to handle post-Panamax ships, the first being Los Angeles. As Panama is already a natural trading route, it would be able to handle the movement of containers from the Pacific to the Atlantic side via railroad, where containers would be reloaded to other ships for worldwide distribution. [61] In addition, the following organizations and people oppose the project:


Watch the video: The Panama Canal - A Day In A Tug Boat (December 2021).