Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Opening of expanded Panama Canal is delayed until 2016

A bigger ditch: Work to construct three new locks at Gatun 

Construction delays have pushed back the opening date for the expanded Panama Canal and its new locks.

Completion of the £3.25 billion engineering project had been expected by December next year, but the Canal Authority has announced it will not open until 2016 – without specifying even an approximate date.

Construction of the locks, which will accommodate vessels about a third larger than the current maximum size, was delayed earlier this year by a dispute over costs with the European consortium carrying out the work.

A third shipment of 4,000-ton lock gates, built in Italy, was delivered to Panama earlier this week. The final shipment to complete the 16 total is expected in January.

Work on the new locks and associated channels, together with dredging and other operations to expand the canal, is almost 80 per cent complete.

The Canal, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, celebrated its 100th anniversary in August. Read more about the history of the Panama Canal and follow a journey through it on board cruise ship Celebrity  Infinity, in the latest issue of World of Cruising.

Two of the new Panama Canal lock gates awaiting installation