New Panama Canal Gets Dutch Made Lock Gates

On Sunday June 26th 2016, in front of many locals and heads of state, the Chinese-owned mega vessel Cosco Shipping Panama made her passage through the Dutch made lock gates of the newly expanded Panama Canal. The 48 meter wide and 300 meter long ship of the New Panamax class, navigated the new canal with its 9,000 cargo containers.

Panama Canal lock gate door

Panama Canal lock gate door

The expansion of the Panama Canal took 10 years and has a € 7 billion price tag. It took 4.5 million cubic meters of concrete (almost 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools) to double the width of the 81 kilometer long canal.

By doubling the width and adding new larger locks, the new Panama Canal allows for ships to carry three times more cargo than previously possible.

Using the passage will shorten the trip from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and vice-versa, by two weeks.

Lock gates made in Holland

One of the most important parts of the canal are the Dutch made lock gates. The Netherlands’ engineering company IV-Groep was one of the companies who build and supervised the construction of the 57 meter wide, 30 meter high and 10 meter thick gates. Over the full 81 kilometers, 16 of these concrete doors were built.

IV-Groep project supervisor Léon Tuunter: ‘It was a challenge how to deal with the water load and also making the gates earthquake proof.’

The doors were constructed in Italy and took 8,000 workers on location in Panama to build the concrete structures for the doors.

Strong in maritime niches

There are more maritime companies from the Netherlands taking part in the construction of the Panama Canal. Dutch engineers, Royal Boskalis, are generating islands around the sea way.

Says, Dutch deputy Prime-Minister, Lodewijk Asscher, ‘the Netherlands is strong in maritime niches like shipbuilding, engineering companies, and dredging.’

Panama Canal

Opened in 1914, the Panama Canal stretches 81 kilometers and connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. It is one of most important waterways in the world, used by giant ships sometimes carrying up to 13,000 containers. On average 35 vessels use the canal each day. Five percent of the world’s maritime trade use the passage.

Since the beginning of this millennium, the canal has generated € 9 billion in direct income for the Central American country of Panama, around 40% of its GDP.

The canal authorities hope that by expanding the waterway, it will better compete with the Suez Canal. They also hope to tap into new markets, like the natural gas shipments between the United States and Asia.