VIDEO: New Panama Canal Lock Transit
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has released a new video illustration of the lock arrangements and locking procedures for transiting the New Panama Canal. The system will rely on tugboats for positioning within locks – unlike the locomotive system for the existing canal facilities – and will use each ships’ crew and mooring winches to handle lines.
For training and testing, the ACP has also built a scale model facility to replicate the new canal, complete with model tugs and vessels.
The inauguration and opening of the new canal is scheduled for June 26, but in the runup to the ceremony, the ACP has been forced to issue three rounds of draft restrictions for transiting vessels. The latest restriction, announced Monday for vessels loaded after April 11, will take effect May 9 and will reduce the permissible maximum draft to 38 feet – down by 1.5 feet from the standard level.
Both old and new canals depend on the water level of Gatun Lake, and with unusually dry conditions caused by a strong El Niño year, Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes have fallen substantially below their average for this time of year, the ACP said.
It takes approximately 50 million gallons of freshwater to complete one transit of the existing locks; the new locks are designed to use water-storage basins to conserve.