Panama Canal expansion in late June

At the inauguration ceremony of the Panama Canal’s Scale Model Manoeuvring Facility the Panama Canal Authority announced that the Panama Canal Expansion will be inaugurated on the 26th June 2016.

The canal is said to be 97% complete, and will allow much larger ships to transit the Isthmus of the Americas and enable trade to increase by sea through the region. For many years there has been a size of ship known as the Panamax that is the maximum size of vessel that can pass through the canal. The modern 19,000 TEU container ships plying the Pacific and Atlantic are known as Post Panamax because they are economical enough to bypass the canal.

With the canal close to completion there will be an intensive testing programme of the systems that have been installed including the locks and gates as well as traffic communication systems.

The President of Panama, Juan Carlos Verela, was in attendance at the inauguration ceremony, along with the Panama Canal Board of Directors Chairman, Roberto Roy, and other distinguished members of the Board.

“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 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, that is designed around the new widened and deepened canal features two lakes connected by a channel modelled after the canal’s Culebra Cut. It features docking bays, replicas of the new locks, gates and chambers. Everything is at a 1:25 scale. Students will sail ships modelled on bulk carriers, container ships and an LNG carrier. There are wind and wave generators to replicate the conditions faced by those manoeuvring the vessels through the often tricky passages.