AAPA Seaports Advisory

Milestones: Panama Canal

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Panama Canal Announces Expansion Inauguration Date, Inaugurates Scale Model Training Facility

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced March 23 that the Panama Canal Expansion will be officially inaugurated on Sunday, June 26, 2016. The expansion adds a third set of locks to the waterway, each 427 meters (1,401 feet) long, 55 meters (180.5 feet) wide and 18.3 meters (60.1 feet) deep, that will allow transit by container ships of up to 14,000-TEU capacity, or nearly triple the size of the largest ships that can be accommodated by the original locks.

The announcement came during a ceremony marking the opening the Canal's state-of-the-art Scale Model Maneuvering Training Facility, which will provide additional hands-on experience to pilots and tugboat captains to operate in the expanded Panama Canal.

"The Scale Model Training Facility will allow us to continue providing world-class service to the global maritime industry, while guaranteeing safe and efficient transits through the soon-to-be inaugurated Expanded Canal," said ACP Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. "The dream of expansion will become a reality when we inaugurate the biggest infrastructure project in the history of the Canal and the country of Panama."

The 35.3-acre training facility features two lakes connected by a channel modeled after the Canal's Culebra Cut. It includes docking bays, replicas of the new and existing locks, gates, and chambers, all at a 1:25 scale.

The facility is equipped with scale models of Panama Canal tugboats, as well as ships built in France at Port Revel, including bulk carriers modeled after the Nord Delphinus and a container ship modeled after the Maersk Edinburgh. An LNG ship model will be delivered by September 2016.

Wave and wind generators provide realistic, hands-on training experience for Canal pilots and tugboat captains to prepare them for the opening of the expanded waterway. It complements the training already provided at the Center of Simulation, Research and Maritime Development (SIDMAR) through immersive, 360-degree training simulations and courses.

The expansion project is currently 97 percent complete. Final testing will be conducted in the weeks leading up to the official inauguration of the Expanded Canal on June 26.

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