In a major milestone for the Panama Canal expansion program, the first four gates for the new locks arrived from port of Trieste, Italy, to the waterway's Atlantic side on board the semi-submersible vessel STX Sun Rise on Tuesday.
"This is an exciting moment for the Panama Canal — the arrival of the new gates marks a great progress for this engineering project," Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said in a statement. "With the expansion, we will further reinforce our position as the maritime and logistics hub of the Americas."
Built by subcontractor Cimolai SpA, the first four steel gates are 190 feet long, 33 feet wide, 100 feet high, and weigh an average of 3,100 tons. They will be installed in the middle chamber of the new locks in the Atlantic side.
The new locks of the expanded Panama Canal have a total of 16 rolling gates (eight for each new lock complex). The gates are being shipped four at a time from Italy. Unlike the current Canal, which uses miter gates, the expanded Canal will have steel rolling gates.
The Panama Canal expansion is 62 percent complete, according to the Panama Canal Authority. It involves the construction of a third lane of traffic allowing the passage of Post-Panamax vessels, which will double the Canal's capacity and have an important impact in world maritime trade.