Last week, the companies working on the the Panama Canal celebrated an important milestone bringing the Expansion scheme another step closer to completion.
Working on the project for the past seven years culminated with the flooding of the Third Set of Locks, last phase before the official opening of the canal. The start of the filling process is a deliberate and methodical phase of operational tests that must be performed before the new locks can be brought online.
When fully flooded, the same process will then fill the rest of the Atlantic sections of locks, reaching a water level of 27 meters above the sea level. Tests and inspections are expected to take four months.
The 3th Set of Locks is one of the largest engineering projects on this globe. The new canal will allow for the transit of ships that are 400 meters long with a capacity of 14,000 containers, three times the amount carried by ships that pass through the present Panama canal. The project has seen the excavation of 50 million metric cubes of earth, the pouring of five million metric cubes of concrete, the use of 290,000 tons of iron and the work of more than 10,000 workers. The giant sluice doors are – on average –about 30 meters tall, 10 meters wide and 58 meters long. Each weighs more than 3,000 tons.