Map of the Panama Canal
Map of the Panama Canal

The prospect of giant ‘Super Post Panamax’ size container ships, bulk carriers and tankers sailing across the warm waters of Lake Gatun in the middle section of the Panama Canal will become a reality in 2015, just over one hundred years after the Canal was first opened. The current two lanes for ships up to Panamax size will be joined by a new lane, equipped with two new lock complexes, for these huge vessels at the Atlantic and Pacific ends of the canal. This canal is one of the greatest wonders of engineering of the world, and is just over 50 miles in length, with ships raised a height of 85 feet by locks at both the Atlantic and Pacific ends to cross from one ocean to another. The current transit time of eight to ten hours will remain the same for the new Post Panamax lane. The great Canal shortens the voyage between U.S. East coast and West coast ports by over 8,000 miles over the route via Cape Horn. The current operation of the Canal is very efficient, in spite of being a century old, and it is worth looking first at the extraordinary history of it’s construction.

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