New Facility for Ijmuiden: When built in 1929, the north lock of the Nordzee Kanal at Ijmuiden in The Netherlands was the largest lock in the world. Preparations for the construction of a new larger sea lock at the Ijmuiden complex are now well under way. Havenbedrijf Amsterdam NV, the Amsterdam port authority is participating in these preparations jointly with the Dutch Ministry of infrastructure and the Environment, the Dutch Directorate-general for Mobility and Transport, the Dutch Directorate-general for Public Works and Water Management, the City of Amsterdam and the Province of North Holland. The Rijkswaterstaat will oversee the whole project. The Noordersluis lock, the largest of the group of locks in Ijmuiden will reach the end of its useful technical life in 2029 after 100 years of service and therefore needs to be replaced. The size of the new lock which is scheduled to have an overall length of 718 metres will accommodate the trend towards increasing ship dimensions and will ensure that the Amsterdam port area remains accessible for the new generation of larger vessels such as cruise ships, bulk carriers and container ships, all of which currently use the port. A larger, tide-independent lock will also limit waiting times for ships and provide opportunities for capacity expansion of the sea lock. The new lock will have an effective length of 500 metres, allowing ships of this length to use the lock. The width of the lock will allow ships with a beam of between 65 and 70 metres which will allow tugs to work in the lock when escorting ships.

New Repairs Delay Re-opening: in mid August it was revealed that a surprise discovery of more lock gate damage has put Bremerhaven’s giant new Kaiserschleuse lock out of action until at least the end of 2015. The 305m long and 55m wide lock had been due to re-open in June after being closed since October 2014 for repairs to its outer lift-and-slide gate. However just two weeks before the scheduled completion of those repairs, port management company Bremenports reported damage had also been discovered on the lock’s inner gate.

Panama Canal Authority (ACP): a day after it was revealed that a crack appeared in the Panama Canal’s third set of locks, the Panama Canal authority (ACP) said on 25th August that the problem should not be significant enough to impact on the Canal expansion project’s completion deadlines. At the same time ACP laid out in no uncertain terms the unacceptability of any deficiencies in the quality of work by the contractor, international consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC). The latter is expected to meet all the costs involved in fixing the crack. The crack was exposed during a water-filling and testing procedure for the locks. A few days later the ACP suspended the first draught restriction that was scheduled to go into effect 8th September 2015. although the level of Gatun Lake is still well below normal levels for this time of the year, and the “El Niño” phenomenon is still present in the region, the amount of rainfall received in the Canal Watershed at that time, in addition to the water conservation measures implemented and the works done to deepen the navigational channel, has made it possible for the Panama Canal to suspend the announced restriction. Therefore, until further notice, vessels will continue to be allowed to transit at their maximum Panama Canal approved draft up to 12.04m Tropical Fresh Water (TFW). A core sample pulled from the concrete of the Cocoli Locks where cracks and leaks have appeared does not bode well for the expansion project, which is on a strict deadline for completion in April 2016. The sample revealed large pockets of air in the concrete, hence the leaks.

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