As many mariners know, a third set of locks is being added to the Panama Canal, which currently handles ships up to 965 feet long and 106 feet wide (a limit known as “Panamax”). Traffic through the canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific has long been backed up, which makes sense when you consider that vessels ranging from small recreational sailboats to giant bulk carriers queue for the 50-mile shortcut that’s an alternative to rounding Cape Horn! Excavation is under way at the Panama end of the new locks, with the New York Times reporting progress on a hole that’s now a mile long, several hundred feet wide and more than 100 feet deep. When the new dig is finished, vessels with beams of up to 160 feet, overall lengths of up to 1,200 feet and drafts of up to 50 feet will be the “New Panamax” standard. The cost is estimated at $5.25 billion and could potentially triple the amount of cargo that annually passes through the canal when it’s completed in 2014.
The New Panamax
Vessels with beams of up to 160 feet, overall lengths of up to 1,200 feet and drafts of up to 50 feet will be the “New Panamax” standard.
Photo by: Panama Canal Authority