Heavylift / Breakbulk
Transporting lock gates in Panama – Gigantic dimensions
The construction of new locks in the Panama Canal has repeatedly been in the headlines recently. The transport of the first gates from the maritime terminal to the building site was an outstanding event – quite literally.
The expansion of the Panama Canal is clearly making good progress and has entered a new phase. The first gates for the lock system have been transferred to a building site on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Central American country. «This is a very important step for us,» the Panama Canal Authority’s Jorge L. Quijano declared on 21 July. «It includes transferring the gates from the special dock where they arrived to the lower chambers of the canal’s new locks.»
Strict safety and security regulations applied to the haulage of the heavy steel structures, manufactured by the Italian company Cimolai, to the lock chambers on specially-constructed ramps. Each gate is 57 m long, 10 m wide and 31 m high and weighs more than 3,000 t. Eight of the 16 rolling lock gates that are due to be installed in the new facilities have already arrived in Panama, having been shipped from Trieste.
The carriage of the massive pieces of equipment from their unloading dock to the chambers of the lock system has been pencilled in for the coming days. The remaining eight units will be shipped across the Atlantic in two separate consignments. They are expected to arrive there in October. A contract between Grupo Unidos por el Canal, the consortium mandated to construct the canal expansion, and the Panama Canal Authority calls for the delivery to Panama of all of the gates by December.
The Panama Canal Authority has said that 77% of the entire programme to expand the crucial trade channel has already been completed. Work officially began in August 2009 and is currently expected to be concluded by the end of 2015. The works have been subject to numerous delays so far, however.